Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Tis the Season for Giving

So I can pretty much guarantee you that all of my posts from now until sometime in February will somehow involve Christmas specifically or the holiday season in general.
Today, I would like to address "Christmas skeptics." You know the ones. They dislike the overwhelming commercial nature of Christmas these days, the pressure of finding the perfect gift for someone and ultimately buying something the other won't necessarily want, the reception of weird and undesired gifts from weird (and possibly undesired) family members, the constant release of boring Christmas albums by artists capitalizing on the timelessness of holiday classics.
To these people I say: get a life. Put on a Bing Crosby record. Make a paper snowflake. Take this time as an excuse to do all of the things you know you should be doing all year.
Some ideas if you're stumped:

1. Bogged down with a surplus of toys? Do you love shopping in FAO Schwarz but your youngest cousin is 17? Don't worry, there are underprivileged children all over who would love to benefit from your generosity!

Toys for Tots - donate or volunteer to help deliver toys by e-mailing

Hope For New York Angel Tree - toys for kiddies who have a parent in prison.

2. Help fight hunger! Let's be honest, the holidays are pretty food-centric, so share the pie spirit with everyone.

Food Bank for New York City, The New York City Rescue Mission and The Coalition for the Homeless. Help feed New York's homeless this Christmas, and if you get carried away and help out all year, so be it.

God's Love, We Deliver - caters to HIV/AIDS patients in all of the boroughs except for Queens, for some reason.

Hope for New York (again) - Holiday Outreach Breakfast. Decorate, organize, cook, or serve!

3. Just a little bored? Check out these organizations and do pretty much any sort of volunteer work you like!

New York is beautiful and magical and sparkly this holiday season, but slightly less so if you're a kid worried Santa won't come, or cold rather than cozy, or hungry rather than stuffed with figgy pudding. Now stop being so grinchy and spread Christmas cheer!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Merry December!

So here we are, December. Thanksgiving is over (sad), and Christmas season has officially begun (happy!).
Speaking of turkeys and turkey accoutrements, I spent this past Thursday with a friend's family in southern Maine, and let me tell you, that state has not lost a STEP. As much as I think the whole town knows I do thoroughly enjoy New York City, that Maine place really has a hold on my heart, and I must confess that I had a difficult time returning on Friday evening.
More than any variety of activity or establishment available, I think it is really the aura of Maine that gets me. Maine has a wholesome, hearty, community-oriented spirit that you just don't find in metropolises with populations in the millions.
Example: the Turkey Trot. I will compare it with the New York Marathon, because this is my blog and why not.
The New York Marathon is hard. It is long. I believe it involves spending a fairly significant amount of time in the Bronx. Now, I've been to the Bronx twice and I know that there are some very lovely spots there, not only to live but also to look at animals (the Bronx Zoo), and flowers (the Botanical Garden). However, I also happen to know that Jenny "from the block" is from the Bronx. She paints it to be a pretty tough neighborhood and if she says so, it must be true.
The New York Marathon involves thousands of people from all over the world - in my hotel alone we hosted about 10 participants from as nearby as Connecticut and as far away as Italy.
The New York Marathon provides endless opportunities for commercial activity. Vendors of athletic gear, marathon merchandise and even brunch profited from the Marathon. The race is sponsored by a bank, and when I think of banks, I think of money. And elaborate robberies.
In contrast, the Turkey Trot, held annually in Bath, Maine, at 8:30 am Thanksgiving morning, is, well, easy. It is fun. Dogs are involved. Families run together. Everyone knows everyone. A man pushing a baby stroller beat me. That's fine. I saw someone running in jeans (not to brag or anything, but I beat him). I celebrated the race not with some fancy pantsy banquet, but with a bloody mary and pumpkin muffin in my friend's cousins' kitchen.
To complete my analogy, I would like to say that running the Turkey Trot, much like living in Maine, makes a girl feel good, relaxed, and ready to eat lots of pie. Running the New York Marathon, much like living in New York, is challenging, rewarding, crowded and sometimes takes place in the Bronx. I mean I guess it's more impressive to run the New York Marathon, but some days, you just want to trot like a little turkey.
To close, I'd like to share a picture of moose.

I love Maine.