Monday, December 31, 2018

Hello, 2019

It's bye-bye 2018 and hello to 2019
Dear 2018,
You've been a full year. I celebrated my 50th high school reunion and saved the dates for my 50th college reunions. I visited Australia last January and completed my goal of visiting all seven continents. I walked over 1,000 miles, lifted over 300,000 pounds and became a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers. I enjoyed great theater -- My Fair Lady, To Kill a Mockingbird and Ferryman. I celebrated Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas with friends of long-standing. I met blog buddies in Australia and England and they are now in-real-life friends.
Regrets? I've got a few. I hoped to read more, but am grateful for the books I did read. Heartland and Educated stand out. I hoped to blog more, but I'm happy to have kept blogging through the year. I could have eaten more vegetables, attended more Yoga classes and decluttered more thoroughly.
So here are my goals: Read more, write more, eat more vegetables, go to Yoga and declutter.    
No Times Square for this New Yorker. In a little while I'm joining friends for a quiet evening of Chinese food and television. Tomorrow I begin to carry out my goals. I'm planning a big salad, reading and a blog post about my "word" for 2019. I hope you will stop by and say hello. 
Wishes to all of Buttercupland for a happy, healthy
and peaceful new year.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Miracle on 34th Street

Christmas in New York always includes Macy's
For those of us of a certain age, i.e., most of us in Buttercupland, "Miracle on 34th Street" was the Christmas movie.  My parents and I would spend a very enjoyable evening every December watching Natalie Wood and Maureen O'Hara find joy in Christmas. We didn't live in New York City, but the idea that the perfect store at Christmas was Macy's was imprinted in my mind at a very young age. I don't get to the flagship Macy's store all that often, but it wouldn't be Christmas without a visit to Macy's. 
I made my annual December visit yesterday. The decorations were charming and I enjoyed seeing the festive scenes that are displayed on the first floor. Of course, everyone else in New York City was enjoying it as well. My miracle on 34th Street was keeping calm in the midst of the crowds. It was crowded, too crowded for me to do any shopping, but I'm glad I made my annual visit. 
This is one of my favorite decorations. It honors the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
These overhead scenes rotate so you can see all of the details. 
 This year's fun friend is Sunny the Snowpal, who helps Santa when there are mechanical problems with the sled. I think Sunny might make a nice addition to the Snowman Family.
 I see a return to Macy's later this week.
 Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. 
Macy's windows on 34th Street tell the iconic story of  Virginia O'Hanlon's letter to the New York Sun in 1897. The response to Virginia's letter to the Sun was written by a veteran newspaper writer, Francis Pharcellus Church. His words were wise in 1897 and equally wise today, in our own time of skepticism. 
Church wrote: "No Santa Claus! Thank G-d! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now,Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
I hope your holiday time has been one of many sweet moments, large and small. I loved sharing some of my favorite moments of Christmas in New York with my Buttercupland family and my Pink Saturday family.
As ever, thanks for visiting and take care!

Friday, December 28, 2018

If I Could Turn Back Time

One World Trade Center with holiday lights
This is an extraordinarily evocative time of year. Though I make every effort to live in this time and this place, Chanukah and Christmas bring back memories -- many memories -- of celebrations past and those we celebrated with who are no longer with us. 
Lower Manhattan is filled with memories. I worked in the area for over ten years, including September 11. There are memories of shopping at the World Trade Center Concourse and holiday parties in at least a dozen different places, each one bringing back thoughts of friends and colleagues, some I am still blessed to spend time with and some who live only in my memories.
I had the good fortune to see the bio-musical "Cher" a few weeks ago and the song, "If I could turn back time..." has been stuck in my head since then. There are few occasions when I'd like to turn back time, but seeing the Christmas tree at the FDNY Memorial Wall, across the street from the World Trade Center Site and the 9/11 Memorial, gave me the desire to turn back time.
The FDNY Memorial Wall at Christmas
The Fire Department Memorial Wall is a 56 foot bronze sculpture, at Engine/Ladder Company Ten. It honors the 343 firefighters and volunteer firefighter Glenn J. Winuk, who died on September 11, 2001. It is a deeply moving remembrance of bravery and sacrifice and definitely worth visiting.

 The 343 firefighters are always remembered at Ladder 10 and in our hearts.
Fire Department Memorial Wall Christmas Tree
 None of us can turn back time, but we can honor and remember those who gave so much for our city and our country. May their memories be a blessing.

I spent a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrating with friends in Brooklyn. The time included good conversation, wonderful food and several Christmas movies. I couldn't ask for a better celebration. I'm still writing cards and plan to be finished by Sunday. My goal is to enjoy the snowmen and the Monkey family for a few more days and then organize all of my cards/wrapping/décor on January 1. This is at least two weeks ahead of my usual post-holiday routine, but my goal for 2019 is to tackle a number of organizing projects I've been putting off for a long time. It's going to be a busy year for the shredder! When do you take down your decorations and store them away. I have friends who "undecorated" on Christmas night, but that's too soon for me.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Revisiting "These Gifts We Give"

Merry Christmas from the Frick Collection, New York City
I wrote the original post on the gifts of Christmas in 2013 and reposted it last year. It may be my favorite post of the thousands I've written and I'd like to share it again. A few days ago a friend wrote that she was feeling sad. She had done little shopping, her cards were undone and she felt she had no gifts to give, not unlike the Little Drummer Boy. So untrue in her case, or in the case of almost everyone I know. Donna is one of the most generous people I know. She is devoted to family, to her work and church communities and to her friends, including Buttercup. I suspect that her errands were undone while she was caring for those fortunate enough to be part of her world.
Thank you, dear friends of Buttercupland, for your beautiful and thoughtful gifts this year, and in the almost ten years past. I am once again grateful for comments, emails and the opportunities to meet my blogger friends all over the world. I never dreamed what a world or friendship I would gain with my first post in 2009. Love and thanks at Christmas and all through the year.
   Merry Christmas, and a glad new year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

It's Snowman Sunday All Day

Happy and merry!
It's been another day of celebration as the Snowman family gathered to celebrate their favorite day of the year, Snowman Sunday. There was lots of fun, lots of snow ice cream and a good time was had by all the group. The snowman ice cream was complements of the freezer as there is no snow in New York City. The snowmen are disappointed, but I am happy, happy, happy. I'm grateful for no boots being needed, no concerns about slipping and relatively balmy temperatures. 
I realize that there may be visitors to Buttercupland that will note that the Snowman family is a diverse group. This year Snowman Sunday invited teddy bears and dolls to the festivities. It was tough to get the entire group into the picture, but everyone snuggled together and we've got a photograph for the ages. 
Somewhere in the last twenty-four hours I shed my anxiety about all the things that are still undone. Presents are bought and almost all are wrapped. I've still got cards to write, but I don't think anyone will be upset if they arrive a few days -- or a week -- after Christmas. I also shed an overbooked schedule and found my concentration again. I've been reading more in the last few days than I have in the last few months. What a great gift to give myself, and all it took was slowing down. 
The Snowman family joins me in wishing happy and merry to our Pink Saturday friends and to all of Buttercupland. Please stop by tomorrow for Christmas Eve greetings and one of my all-time favorite posts.
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care, keep cozy and happy and merry wishes!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Angels We Have Heard on High

The Neapolitan Creche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
From time to time I worry that the holiday posts are repetitive. I visit many of the same places every year. But then I remember that it wouldn't be Christmas in New York without the windows on Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center and what may be the most beautiful sight in all of New York City at this time of year, the Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque Creche at the Metropolitan Museum.
Yesterday I spent the day at the museum with one of my favorite museum going friends, Nancy. The majority of our visit was primarily split between a vast and wonderfully assembled exhibition of the French artist, Delacroix and a wonderful afternoon of catching up in one of the restaurants at the museum. But our first stop was at the Christmas tree and creche. 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas tree
This annual tradition began in 1957. The link above gives an outstanding description of the history of the collection and the history of Neapolitan nativity scenes. I had thought that the figures put in the same places in the display every year, but learned that they vary from year to year. Perhaps my favorite part of the display are the large angels that are placed on the tree. Each one is exquisite.
I may not make a return visit to Rockefeller Center -- particularly if it turns much colder -- but I am pretty sure I will find an evening to return to the museum and see the tree's lights and hear the music playing in the background.
What are your favorite traditions at this time of year? Are there local sights that are "must-sees" on your calendar?
I spent most of today at my pre-op appointment for next month's hip replacement. After it was over I realized I had a lot more anxiety than I was aware of. I've got three weeks before the surgery and now I'm going to move it to the back of my mind and enjoy the good times of the season. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Keep cozy!

Monday, December 17, 2018

We Wish You a Happy Monkey Monday

Greetings from Pep, looking festive in his Santa hat, and friends!
Today marks one of the happiest days in Buttercupland, Christmas Monkey Monday. We've celebrated Monkey Monday a number of times in the past throughout the year, but each year the entire group of monkey friends join together to wish all of Buttercupland a merry Christmas, a festive season and a very glad new year. 
Some may notice that everyone is not looking at the camera, but please, remember that it's nearly impossible to get seven monkeys to all smile at the camera at the same time. They're a wiggling, giggling have-a-good-time group and yes, as much fun as a barrel of monkeys can be. Traditionally, the snowmen make their appearance on Snowman Sunday, which has in the past has been the day before Monkey Monday. This year they will appear next week to offer their greetings. 
I don't know about you, but I'm not my calmest self. There's no reason to explain my lack of serenity. I'm not working, shop all year round, had my cards ready to address three weeks ago and am fortunate to spend Christmas with friends. But I've yet to finish my cards and there are three packages yet to wrap and mail. I was going great the first week in December, but my energy is fading away. Some of the cards may not get there before New Year's, but I'm hoping I get a second wind in the next few days and get writing. Every year I plan to do better and every year at this time it seems to be the same. But Pep and friends are celebrating and I had a great afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum with a friend. Celebration, friendship and being with those we love are what really matter and all the rest gets done -- mostly!
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a cozy evening. Please stop by tomorrow for a visit to the Metropolitan Museum and the beautiful tree and crèche.    

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Pink Saturday: Icons of Christmas in New York

It's Christmas time in the city...
I found myself one block from this scene at Sixth Avenue tonight and realized it was a perfect night -- clear and not cold -- to brave the crowds and try and see the tree at Rockefeller Center. Actually I think everyone in New York City had the same idea. It was crowded, but I enjoyed the lights and decorations. This is one of my favorite spots every year. It's at Sixth Avenue and 50th Street and Radio City Music Hall and the NBC Studios are across the street. I included this visitor wearing a pink jacket in homage to Pink Saturday.

I made half a turn and there was Radio City Music Hall decorated for the season.
My next stop was braving the crowd and walking one block to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. By the time I reached the tree it was close to gridlock on the sidewalk. I did get this photograph of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. 
The ice rink is to the right. The crowd was too dense to make my way over to
take photographs of the skaters. Alas, that will have to wait for another time.  
In the interest of accuracy, I took one more photograph of what viewing
the tree actually looked like. 

Why is my new unicorn friend part of a post about icons of Christmas in New York?
If you look very carefully at the top right corner of the photograph you will see the unicorn's address, one of the great icons of New York City, F.A.O. Schwarz. The legendary toy store that stood at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-Eighth Street for decades returned last month to its new site in Rockefeller Center. Even at 9:30 on this Saturday night it was crowded, but I will definitely return on a quieter day this winter for a tour and photographs.
I hope you've enjoyed our evening in Rockefeller Center and our visit to some of the icons of Christmas in New York City. This holiday season seems to have flown by more quickly than anyone others I can remember. The days are just racing by. Does anyone else feel the same way?
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a cozy Sunday! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Grab Your Coat and Get Your Hat..

It's a cold night in New York City, but we're braving the wind to visit the New York Stock Exchange.
Christmas at the New York Stock Exchange 

One of my concerns each year at this time is that I'm getting in a rut. I want to show the classic scenes of New York at Christmas -- Rockefeller Center, the windows on Fifth Avenue and Macy's -- but I feel as though I'm showing the same pictures every year. Classics are classic because they are timeless and a joy to visit and show again and again, but this year I want to bring a few new-to- Buttercupland sites in New York City. The first of these is a visit to Lower Manhattan and the New York Stock Exchange.  

The tree at Rockefeller Center will always be "The Tree, " but this beauty at the Stock Exchange is following right behind. For a number of years I worked just a few blocks south and I passed this scene most nights walking to the subway. I may only see it once a season now, and so enjoyed seeing it again. The street was quiet and the lights were bright, and I remembered how much pleasure I had walking up Broad Street.

This is the entrance to the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, and yes, there is a Wall Street. Despite the scaffolding and construction the simple lights and decorations were a lovely sight.
Amazingly, two weeks from tonight is Christmas night. Two weeks! How can I go from feeling ahead of schedule to feeling far behind? I'm in the midst of cards and packages to mail and scraps of wrapping paper all over the dining area table. I'm optimistic there will be some order out of chaos in the next few days, but right now it doesn't seem possible. Does anyone else feel that way?
As ever, thanks for visiting and keep cozy!  

Sunday, December 9, 2018

On the Eighth Night of Chanukah...

Eight candles were lit!

My synagogue celebrated the 100th anniversary of our present sanctuary. It's the fifth building for the congregation, which began in 1825, and the building where we have worshipped for the longest duration. We had a wonderful evening of music and I shared several video clips on Facebook. I'm still working on posting videos in Buttercupland.

I finally ate one of the two traditional foods of Chanukah, the jelly doughnut.
 I actually ate two mini-filled doughnuts and they were delicious.
Chanukah commemorates a miracle of oil and the traditional foods -- latkes/potato pancakes and doughnuts -- are fried in oil. I've had my fill of delicious homemade potato pancakes, but in the interest of fitting into the same clothes I wore last month next month, I skipped the doughnuts until tonight. 
It's been a joyous eight days -- spending time with family, friends who are family and my synagogue family. It's been a yummy, light and love filled time of celebration and I'm definitely counting many blessings this eighth night of Chanukah. Though we are entering the time of year with he least light, I will carry the warm memories of this week into the days of winter.
My happy wishes for light and love to all of Buttercupland and to all of my Pink Saturday friends. I hope your days are filled with family and friends and lots of sweet celebration.
As ever, thanks for visiting. Keep cozy! 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Chanukah, Christmas and My Birthday...

...Arrived today, set in a cooler of dry ice!
I'm not sure if delivery was via Hanukah Harry, Saint Nicholas or the FedEx truck, but I received a cooler of seven pints of the dairy free version of  Enlightened Ice Cream.  Enlightened is a favorite of mine and I haven't been able to find the new flavors anywhere in my grocery store wanderings around Manhattan.
Long time readers may remember my habit of entering sweepstakes. I had a long bout of insomnia for almost a decade. Watching television or reading in the middle of the night didn't work to put me back to sleep, but an hour or so at the computer in the middle of the night, worked best for me. I had a number of wins, but in the last few years I've both slept better and the contest website I had frequented had less contests of interest. Recently I found a number of contests on Facebook and Instagram and I started to enter them again. In October I won 24 containers of yogurt and last month I won this Facebook contest sponsored by Enlightened. I'm thrilled with this win, but my dream is still  a spa vacation win.
Looking at this cooler packed with yummy, my biggest question was which pint to try first. It was a difficult choice, but I guided by my buddy, Pep the Monkey, I went with Monkey Business, in the upper right corner. It's banana with swirls of peanut butter and chocolate chips. It was a great choice and I will be on the lookout for it in the future. Other flavors include Espresso Shot, Cookies & Mint and Candy Bar Crunch.
Thanks, friends at Enlightened! This ice cream lover is very happy tonight.
It's the usual busy end of the year and I'm trying to get all the little errands done that seem to pop up at this time of year and still enjoy New York at the holidays. I thought I had so much done, but I've got a lot of wrapping and card writing to do in the next week to avoid post office disaster. I haven't skipped some holiday sightseeing and I have photographs to share in the next few days. 
As ever, thanks for sharing and have a fabulous Friday!