Monday, November 21, 2011


It is hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner. The one day of the year dedicated to eating, football, and watching TV specials. The one day of the year that you don't have to feel bad about eating seconds of everything and then falling asleep at 4 in the afternoon. The one day of the year that doesn't require anything of anybody except that they be hungry and lazy. What a magical day.

I know, that as we've become a more progressive society, Thanksgiving has gotten a bad rap. A lot of people want to be able to focus on the non-Hallmark, non-commercial origins of the holidays. They want to celebrate the "true meaning" of whatever holiday is approaching. And they are, understandably, upset that when they research the actual origins of Thanksgiving it turns out that the Pilgrims and the Indians didn't exactly get together to eat turkey. People are really bothered that we have a holiday celebrating events that never actually occurred how we say they did.

But here's the thing. Probably it was wrong for the government and the greeting card people and Butterball to all get together and decide to change the story around a little bit in exchange for a couple days off of work and a whole lot of extra money this time of year. But at least they made up a holiday all about being grateful for our family and our friends and having food on the table. Think about it. They could have told some story where the Pilgrims brought the Indians gifts in exchange for their help and so now we all have to buy each other presents on Thanksgiving to show how thankful we are. But that's not how it happened. We all get together and share a meal to show how much we appreciate our time together. What other holiday is there where the only tradition is to give thanks?

So in the spirit of the holiday, I say we all agree that the true meaning of Thanksgiving has nothing to do with Pilgrims and Indians. We should just let go of that controversy all together. I say that the true meaning of Thanksgiving is that a bunch of higher ups got together and said, "Let's all take a few days off work, eat a lot of tasty food, and spend some time with our families." And in honor of that decision, we give thanks for the priceless things we have on this holiday, like time and sleep and a good meal, that we might not have otherwise. I don't think anybody will have a problem celebrating that.

I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving and I hope to see you all on December 2nd at Festival of Lights!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Black Friday Survival Guide

In my last post I mentioned that one of my favorite things about this time of year is Black Friday, and it is coming up fast! Now I know that the majority of people would rather swim in a pool of scorpions than go anywhere near the mall on Black Friday. But hear me out. You don't have to be in line for days to get good deals. True, this is necessary to get a good deal on a TV or a computer. But there are lots of other things on sale like movies, sheets, and toys that almost everybody will have to buy for someone at some point over the holidays.

Now, I am somewhat of a Black Friday pro. My husband learned from his dad and then passed his knowledge down to me. And I have found that if you are going to try Black Friday shopping, the best tool you can have is someone who knows what they are doing. You can never be too prepared when dealing with exhausted, frozen, cracked out on turkey mobs of people. So the following are the key things I have learned from my years as a Black Friday shopper. Hopefully they will help if you are planning on venturing out for the first time this November 25th.

1. It will be freezing cold. I know this seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people I have seen standing in line shivering wearing only a cardigan. I don't care how warm and beautiful it is during the day. No matter what, when you go outside at 3 AM in November it will be cold. Very, very cold. Also, when you stand still outside for hours at a time, it will be cold. Very, very cold. Chances are, when you first get out of the car you will think, "Hey, this isn't so bad," but once you have stood in line for an hour I promise, you will think it is bad. Wear a coat. And a scarf and mittens and a hat. And Ugg boots if you have them.

2. You are not going to get a TV. Or a computer or a tablet or any other really awesome electronic for that matter. People line up outside days in advance for big ticket items, so unless you are willing to miss Thanksgiving dinner with your family, you're not going to get any of these things. Black Friday will be useless to you until you let go of the idea that everyone comes out of it with a home entertainment system. However, if you insist on getting one on Black Friday, there is a little trick. Some stores, like Sears, will sell items online at Black Friday prices. These usually go on the website Thanksgiving evening, so you can order the item online and then pick it up at the store closest to you the next day after all the hard core shoppers are done.

3. Have a plan. Black Friday is not for window shopping. If you try this, you will literally get run over. You need to go into each store knowing exactly what you want to buy. Get the newspaper the Sunday before Thanksgiving and go through the circulars. Make a list of items that you are interested in at each store. Then decide which store to go to first, second, etc. This is especially important this year since many of the big stores like Target and Best Buy are all opening at midnight. This means that if you go to Target first, by the time you get over to Best Buy a lot of the items may already be sold out. You need to decide which purchases are most important to you and go to that store first. Then go to the store with your second most important purchases next and so on and so forth. Remember, time is of the essence. Do not stop to look at anything that might catch your eye. Go straight to the items on your list and then straight to the register. And do NOT forget to bring the list with you!

4. You are going to have to run. This is not so much a tip as something you will just do in order to live through this experience. Most stores only open one door. So all the hundreds of people you are in line with - who are crazy and cold and desperate to get inside - are going to be crammed into one small entrance. People will not care if you want to take your time getting into the store. People will not care if you are a 90-year-old lady with a walker. They will run and push and cram into that small opening as fast as they possibly can. Then once they get inside they will take off like they are being chased by a thousand hungry lions. If you want to get to any deals at all, you are going to have to take off running with them. Now, if you simply want to walk around the store and hope something good falls into your lap, fine. But for your own safety, please stay to the back of the line and out of the way of the mob of people who will be trying to kill you.

5. Get some rest. Most likely, when you get home from shopping you are going to feel great. Your adrenaline will be rushing and you will have so much cool new stuff to play with. But do not be fooled. This feeling is fleeting. The crushing weight of the fact that you only got three hours of sleep the night before and that you have literally been running all over town for the past six hours will come down on you like a Japanese sumo wrestler. First you will realize that you haven't felt your fingers or toes in hours because they are like blocks of ice. Then your eyes will start to get really heavy and your stomach will start eating itself. Unpleasant. To avoid this, always have a post-game plan. I usually head to a fast food restaurant and get breakfast to go. When I get home I unload my purchases, eat, put on really warm pajamas, and go straight to bed. You will wake up late that afternoon feeling a million times better.

Good luck out there everyone! If you end up buying any really great stuff, or have any tips after this year's Black Friday, please let me know. Or if you happen to see anything ridiculous happen while you are out (usually there is at least one thing) I'm going to need to hear about that too. Leave me a comment here or email me at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I know, I know. I am worse than Target putting out bathing suits in January to "get ready for summer." But I just can't help it. I love the holidays and with Halloween being over and it already snowing in New York, I feel that there is no better time than the present (pun definitely intended) to start getting excited!

This holiday season is going to be one of firsts for me. My first Thanksgiving with my husband, my first real Christmas tree, the birth of my first niece. So you can imagine that I am extra excited. But every year there are things that I always look forward to. My very favorite things that come around this time of year, every year, that make this season so much fun and so special to me. Here are a few:

1. Our non-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. In my family, we don't cook a huge meal and gather at someone's house. We make a reservation at a restaurant and have some poor person who has to work on Thanksgiving cook and serve us food. There are no groceries to buy and no dishes to wash. It is simple and stress free and I love it.

2. Black Friday. Every year, my husband and I are among those people you see on the news, shivering and miserable standing outside Best Buy at 3:00 in the morning. There is usually one big ticket item we are after, but for the most part we just wander around stores picking up DVDs and various other knick-knacks that are so cheap on this glorious day of shopping. Then around 10 AM we get breakfast, head home and have a marathon of all our new movies. Also, being crammed into a small space with hundreds of other cold and sleep deprived people is the best recipe for something interesting/hilarious to happen to you. Last year, I saw a guy start to hyperventilate because he wanted a video game out of a glass case. He started yelling and screaming and was almost crying because this video game was behind glass and out of his reach. Then a Target employee walked up and simply slid the glass open. Amazing.

3. Holiday Music. I'm a fan of the traditional songs, but I also love this time of year for all the new renditions and entirely new songs that come out. Here is my favorite from last year by Blackalicious.

4. Pumpkin Pie. I think they actually have this all year long, but I never really notice it or want it until right around November. I've already eaten two whole pies.

5. Festival of Lights! I have actually been working at Festival of Lights since high school. We are going to have some really fun new things, like FestQuest, a scavenger hunt contest, mixed in with all your favorites from years past. It's going to be a great time, I promise!

Now that you know what I love about this time of year, I want to hear what it is that gets you excited for the holidays! Maybe its something I like too! Leave me a comment here or email me at