Making of a Christmas Card, 2015

I was really of two minds as to whether I wanted to make a card this year. For some reason, perhaps the weather, perhaps the compressed calendar this year, I really wasn’t feeling it. Still, I spent some time going through my photo library to see if I could come up with some ideas, and quickly zeroed in on a series of pictures I took out in Colorado five years ago after a snowstorm. I wanted a picture with evergreen trees that were Christmas tree shaped, and decided I would transform it to a night scene, and ‘decorate’ the trees with lights. I decided to go with this picture, taken in the Arapaho State Forest, as we traveled from Breckinridge to Canon City: Continue reading

Happy 2014

Happy New Year 2014! I tend to agree with what Rich Siegel said on Twitter last night,”Oh, and a final thought to 2013: DONT LET THE DOOR HIT YER ASS ON THE WAY OUT.”

I went to First Night last night, and had a grand time, despite the cold. Dressing for it helped. I saw the procession from around Arlington St. It started off with a big truck carrying Mayor Menino and his party, blowing confetti all over the place:

Confetti truck at the First Night Grand Procession

Confetti truck at the First Night Grand Procession

After the procession passed, I walked up to the Public Garden (re-experiencing the tail end of the procession) to watch the fireworks. They were great.


Fireworks over the Common

After the fireworks, I headed up through the  Common to look at the LED sculpture there; there was also a single, small ice sculpture. I miss having the big sculptures at the Common. From there, I headed down to the Old South Church to see the concert put on by the Old South Brass, Organ & Percussion. They were magnificent. The church boasts an incredible organ with about 8,600 pipes located to the front and rear of the church. When the bass pipes play, the floor shakes, and that’s what it did, as they started the program with the Fanfare to Also Sprach Zarathustra, more commonly known as the theme to 2001, A Space Odyssey. Then, when the brass and kettle drums came in—it was awesome.

After the program, I walked down to the Hynes to see a stand up comedian from Laugh Boston. I wish I could remember his name; he was good. A hall in the Hynes is not the best place to see comedy, but he made the most of it. First Boston had provided a sign language interpreter for him; it was interesting to see him play off her. I wish I could understand what she was ‘saying’.

While at the Hynes I saw a big computerized LED wall. It was kind of mesmerizing.

LED wall

LED wall

I then walked back to Copley Square; there was only one ice sculpture there, called “Peaceable Kingdom”, about the lion laying down with the lamb.

Peaceable Kingdom-- ice sculpture of the lion laying down with a child and lamb

Peaceable Kingdom

At that point, I didn’t feel like heading over to Fanuil Hall or the harbor, so I called it a night and headed home. On the way back from Riverside, I swung by the Weston Ski Track to take a look at the snowmaking.

All things considered, it was a good night. I wish the organizers would schedule around the early fireworks a little better; it’s hard to get from the Common to the Hynes to make a 7:30 program, which is partly why I chose the 8 PM program at Old South Church. I was using the First Night app as a guide; it was good for figuring out the schedule and location of the individual programs, but not good at describing or locating the “overall” features like where to find the ice sculptures or what time the fireworks would take place, what would be the route of the procession, or content that would be available all day.

Here’s to a bright shiny new 2014.

Happy Merry Christmas Holidays

So, it’s that time of year.

Actually, for some reason, I’m way ahead of schedule, which feels weird… and a little unsettling. I got the cards out a few days earlier than I normally do, and aside from gift cards and stocking stuffers, all my presents have been gotten and wrapped. I keep wondering what I’ve forgotten.

A “Holiday” Tree?

Rockport Christmas tree
Christmas tree, Rockport, MA

There was a bit of an uproar this year in Providence when the mayor insisted on lighting the official “Holiday Tree.” It seems to me there’s enough stupidity on both sides that I had to say something.

First of all, as a general matter, I can’t get worked up about a “war on Christmas”. I’m not religious, but I do enjoy the secular parts of the holiday. Vienna Teng has a wonderful song on Warm Strangers called “The Atheist’s Christmas Carol” which is pretty apt. On the other hand, there are people who don’t observe it, or who observe other holidays, and I see no harm in using a more general greeting if you don’t know enough about the other person to be sure they celebrate Christmas. I make my own Christmas cards, and I usually have two versions of the card—one that says “Merry Christmas”, which goes out to most people on my list, and one that says “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”  that I send to people I’m either not sure about, or who I know don’t celebrate Christmas.

That said, I think it’s disingenuous to be referring to a “Holiday Tree”. Trees just aren’t part of Hanukkah. The Christmas tree is a distinctive part of the current day Christmas celebration, and to call it something more generic, isn’t being respectful of other traditions, it’s just being politically correct. In fact, I wonder if it’s disrespectful: disrespectful of Christians, who feel their traditions are not being recognized, and disrespectful to Jewish people, who sometimes feel they have to fend off the “Christmas-ization” of Hanukkah.

For what it’s worth, our own Christmas tree gets decorated tonight.

Christmas Season Bike Ride

One personal annual tradition I’ve observed sporadically is a bike ride along the Minuteman Bike Path during the Christmas season. I started it by accident, one Sunday in December several years ago, when I stupidly forgot that the sun sets around four in December, and didn’t leave the house until around 2:30. By the time I reached Bedford, and was heading back, it was already getting dark…and found to my delight there were Christmas lights at several points along the path. It’s a hard thing to time right — one year I started about half hour too early, and didn’t see anything.

This year, I seemed to hit it right, but there weren’t many lights as I remembered, and I froze my feet off. So much for that annual tradition…

Nordstroms Has it Right


I saw this sign in the front window of Nordstrom’s today. I agree wholeheartedly.

Sign seen in Nordstrom window, text follows

“We won’t be decking our halls until Friday November 25. Why? We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time

Our stores will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving festivities. On Friday, our doors will open to ring in the new season in style.”