Category Archives: Christmas

Running to hide in the dark

It’s times like this that make me understand the appeal of going to the theater to see a movie. Or three. I don’t often get to the movies for a film that is anything other than rated PG, but during my winter holidays, I found my way to the Spectrum three times for grown up movies.Two of the movies I saw were based upon books which I had very much enjoyed, while the third appealed to my curiosity and is the one which I’ve found myself reflecting on with surprising frequency. All provided an opportunity to escape.

Escape from what, you ask? Christmas and the stress which it can bring, the reality of who is present in my life and who is not, and a grief that I found I could not run away from no matter how rapidly I moved my sneakered feet. The holidays are a cruel time for death to visit.

So, I went to the movies. First, my middle son and I took in Birdman (and a medium popcorn) together. The plot was interesting without being groundbreaking and I thought the cast was outstanding. Michael Keaton was utterly convincing in the title role and Edward Norton was his standard mesmerizing self. Emma Stone continues to be difficult to look away from and I only wish Naomi Watts had been in more scenes. Overall, I found the film a bit disturbing, but that’s just coming from literal me. I like movies that neatly tie up in the end, and this definitely did not do that.

Christmas Day I made my way back down Delaware Avenue for a matinee of Unbroken. I’ve been waiting to see this movie since I read the book 3 years ago and, while I think the adaptation was respectfully done, the film simply could not live up to the printed page. There just isn’t any way to capture the richness of Hillenbrand’s book and Louis Zamperini’s life in 120+ minutes. By all means, see the movie but do not think it tells the complete story. Read the book.

I completed my trifecta with another film based on a biography, Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. I just recently read and loved the book and think the movie accurately portrayed the journey that Cheryl Strayed took in the aftermath of the demise of her mother and her marriage. There are always creative choices to be made and I think the scenes taken from the book and depicted on screen were wisely made. I liked it, but, you should still read the book if you haven’t already.

Hooray for Hollywood and thank God for books and running.

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Filed under Books, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Movies, Recommendations, running, winter

Laboring on Christmas Eve

Not to take anything away from Mary, but I did my share of work yesterday, too. The morning began with tending to two loaves of bread, prepping the ultimately fantastic beef roast and driving a friend to the airport, all prior to attending a 10:00 yoga class.

After the sweaty release of 75 minutes of hot yoga and a grande latte, things really got busy. There was brioche dough to make for Christmas morning cinnamon rolls along with sugar cookie dough for a (I swear!) last round of baking. And laundry. And a joyous dog walk/run with Jeter which required a follow-up bath for him and a bathroom scrubbing for me. My final exertions, sweeping, vacuuming, and getting vegetables ready to accompany dinner complete, I made myself a bourbon sour and stepped into the clean shower to wash away the efforts of the day.

The house was filled with the aroma of beef stuffed with garlic, parsley and horseradish roasting and the boys had set the table with festive linens and holiday tableware. I sliced some of the beautiful bread I had baked earlier and prepared to sit down, confident that I had remembered every last detail. Until I smelled smoke. I first looked in the kitchen, but there was nothing out of the norm there. Next stop: the dining room where I found a very different story.

The bread basket had apparently been placed too close to a candle and the wicker basket, linen napkin and nearby placemat were all on fire. This was not a smoldering, it was a full-out flaming situation and I instinctively scooped up the entire mess and hastily made for the sink, yelling for some assistance from the boys. The flames were quickly doused and I headed back to the dining room to survey the damage, duly noting the freshly charred area which will perennially mark Quinn’s place at the table.

After the excitement passed, I confessed to Griffin that I wasn’t sure if I had reacted appropriately. Was picking up the flaming stuff and making for the kitchen the right thing to do? Should I have addressed the situation differently? He looked at me and asked “Did you put the fire out? Is anything else destroyed?” When I admitted that there had been no further damage, he assured me that I had done exactly what needed to be done at precisely the right time.

Which kind of brings me back to Mary and Joseph and that manger. Maybe if we keep our eyes open for guidance, be it from the brightest star in the sky or a wise young man (or 3) it really will all be fine. Merry Christmas.

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Filed under Boys, Christmas, Dinner, family, holidays, musings, Uncategorized

My Christmas wish list, 2014

  1. A universe and population that has evolved to understand that we’re more alike than different.
  2. Fewer guns in that wiser universe.
  3. In my own personal DelSo planet,  the boys to clean their bedrooms.
  4. A romantic love that inspires.
  5. If number four doesn’t happen, Bradley Cooper would be an acceptable alternative.

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Filed under Boys, Christmas, holidays, ideas, love

Gifts of the season

So far, it’s been a particularly relaxed holiday season. I’ve been on my game – my freezer has 8 quarts of assorted homemade cookie dough ready to thaw and bake, the door has a wreath and the dining room a decorated tree. The last of the Christmas cards went in the mail 3 days ago and I’ve got 4 rolls of wrapping paper – and tape.

Holiday preparations are so well in hand that I’m adding challenges to the upcoming days. I’ve got a few recipes which I’ll be debuting over the next few days, a riff on apple fritter waffle donuts, overnight pull-apart brioche cinnamon roll bread and a killer roast for Christmas Eve. And, yes, I already ordered the beef from the butcher. How did I manage to be so on top of things? I’d have to say it was because I remembered to put a few things for myself on this year’s gift list.

Last week, I loaded two of the three boys into the car and drove to go pick out a tree. At Price Chopper. Yep, we bought our tree from the Golubs, the same folks from whom I bought the potatoes and onions for our latkes. Talk about one-stop shopping! Generally we go out to rural Rensselear County for our tree, not suburban Slinglerlands, but the week’s wet snow made the appeal of tromping through a field searching for a tree pretty minimal. I gave myself the gift of simplicity. $35.00 and car filled with pine needles later, we have, as always, the perfect tree.

Last night, I had a hankering for latkes. Even though it was Friday and I felt kind of beat, I made the effort to grate the potatoes and chop the onion and fry a batch of latkes. With each step, I considered, then accepted, what I had to do next to get this out of the norm meal on the table. As the pancakes fried, I peeled apples for a quick sauce and grilled sausages. We didn’t sit down to enjoy our dinner until after  8:00, but I felt so relaxed because I didn’t rush the process or myself. I gave myself the gift of indulging in something I was really craving – sour cream and generous glass of Riesling included.

During these often hectic holiday weeks, when so very much (festivities, shopping, food and drink) is crammed into each day, I purposefully left my calendar open. I quietly refused to commit myself or take on obligations. It has been remarkable. I’ve been available to do some fun relatively last minute things.  I’ve been writing and reading, taking long walks with Jeter and enjoying my home and boys. I gave myself the gift of time.

I hope you’re giving yourself something priceless, too.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, Cooking, family, holidays, musings, writing

A believer no more

For the first time in 18 years my home is devoid of believers. Let me tell you, it makes for a different sort of holiday build up. No longer is it necessary to hide the packages left on my front porch by the postal carrier. Now, I just stack them up as unobtrusively as possible, tempting the boys to shake and rattle them with full knowledge that electronics don’t really respond well to that sort of treatment.

While there is a certain freedom in no longer believing in someone, it is hard to let go of all the years of faithfully subscribing to a less than realistic possibility. Letting go of belief requires abandoning hope, or giving up, on some level. It’s hard.

When Quinn told me that he “knows that Santa isn’t real,” my initial impulse was to try to persuade him that he was wrong. I wanted the magic of Christmas to stay, even if just for one more year. After thinking about it, I recognized that while it is unlikely that Quinn will ever again truly believe in the fantasy of a red-clad, jolly old man, there remain many holiday traditions to which he can continue to hold firmly. Things like the gift of giving, the custom of a festive Christmas Eve meal and decorations, the gathering of friends and family and the sharing of joy and laughter.

I’d like to believe that each of my children will continue to believe, in some fashion, in magical possibilities.  Despite his skepticism, Quinn has already shared that he intends to leave a note and cookies, “just in case.”  You see, just as young Virginia was told so many years ago…

Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

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Filed under Boys, Christmas, holidays



First, apologies for YOLO. I’ve never used that acronym before and I promise to retire it immediately.  The term, that is.  The sentiment? Not likely.

I’ve got a little trip planned with three of my besties – a long weekend in New Orleans.  I’m rather ridiculously excited.  I’ve never been to this city before, but its reputation as a destination for eating, drinking and music has interested me for years.  Factor in 5 nights with terrific company and this is about to get real!

The girls and I are in accord when it comes to travel – make a reservation or two, include a nonnegotiable destination or site and wing the rest.  Here’s what we have so far:

  • Dinner at Restaurant R’evolution.  We plan to experience their traditional holiday four-course meal known as Reveillon.
  • At least one visit to Taceaux Loceaux.  I’m hoping to try the avocado fries and the bourbon glazed pork belly.
  • Coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde.
  • A garden or cemetery tour
  • A riverboat cruise
  • The national WW II Museum.

What else?  Anything you’d recommend?  How about a place for breakfast or great music?  And, lastly, I have repeatedly heard that it is important to stay within a fairly small perimeter for safety.  I don’t know, I remember hearing that it was treacherous to drive in L.A. and I wasn’t overly impressed by that experience.  It seems to me that if you’re a New Yorker you know the importance of remaining aware of your surroundings without living in a bubble.  What do you think?  How about places to get a few miles of running in to offset the decadence?  Any experiences or tips you’d like to share would be welcomed!


Filed under Christmas, Eating, friends, holidays, ideas, Recommendations, travel

Last Run and a good run

This past weekend may have been close to perfect.  One of my favorite girls arrived prior to the snow and we settled in to an afternoon of satisfying household tasks.  There was cooking, roasting and baking.  A tree was agreed upon and chopped down, by me. Later, it was beautifully decorated, not by me.  I call that a win-win situation.

With our bellies full of delicious chili and layers of spandex and Lycra firmly in place, we ventured downtown to the starting line for Albany’s 2013 Last Run. Being smart and all, we stashed some clothes at the Wine Bar for a post-race nosh.  We are not amateurs, my friend.
I’ve done this race three years in a row and I have to tell you – it is the most fun race I do each year.  The fireworks, the costumes, the crowd, the lights – it is consistently a blast.  This year, despite the weather conditions (pretty damn cold with face freezing precipitation) I had the most fun ever, probably a combination of the perfect running friends and an entire day devoted to holiday tasks and festivities. Joy to the world, for sure!
photo 1(3)
We followed our exertions with a fantastic dinner at the Wine Bar.  You might think that I praise the food at the Wine Bar with such frequency because I work there, but you’d be wrong.  The reality, though, is I work there because the food is so damn good. Truth.  My meal, from the grilled Caesar salad to the phenomenal pork shoulder to the epic wedge of cheesecake from Cheesecake Machismo was flawless.  Perfect.
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There was another Lilly enjoying her weekend’s activities and menu, Cassidy Bono.  She feasted on sirloin steak, ground beef, sardines and chicken breast, punctuated with plenty of biscuits.  There were lots of cuddles, along with belly rubs, and what turned out to be our last weekend together will always be a time which I will treasure.
We both had a good run.

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Filed under aging, Albany, Christmas, Cooking, Dinner, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Lark Street, Local, running, snow, winter