Don't just survive Thanksgiving, Win it! Or at the very least, enjoy the heck out of it! Here are some tips on how you can do just that!
OK...So, I'm late with this, but better late than never...right? I won't go too deep into all of the things that typically make me feel warm and fuzzy come the winter holiday celebrations, but I will share a couple brief things...with some pics.
I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post that my favorite part of the holidays is getting together with family, and in my family that means our Christmas Lights tour. My mother is one of five kids, and aside from her brother Jay and his family the rest of them live on the West Coast...but aside from us they're all tied to the East Coast as they've all produced children with people who are or have family here. This means we get to sit back each year and let them come to us! And about 8 years ago, my mother booked a van and took some clients on her first Christmas Lights Tour that she decided to share with her loved ones and it's now become our family tradition.
We start at my parents' home where the mini coach meets us, and then we make our way down to the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, which is across the street from Ground Zero. The atrium features 50,000 lights, which makes it a perfect place to start our tour. Also...there are two decent spots for some coffee or hot chocolate; Starbucks of course...or Financier Patisserie, which is my preference of the two.
After about 10 minutes of wandering the Winter Garden and gathering any of our crew that's decided to meet us there we get back on the van and head to Brooklyn! This year, we marveled as we took the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which was flooded to the top during Sandy. Next destination is Dyker Heights, where the residents show their Christmas Spirit with as many lights and figurines and blow up characters as they can fit in their yard. We ooooo and aaaah at the creativity, decadence and dedication displayed for our viewing pleasure.
After taking a few blocks of the lights in we get back on our mini-bus and head over to Mona Lisa's for dinner...to consist of pizza, salad, bruschetta, and WINE! Once the food was devoured and wine finished off, we made our way into the pastry section of the shop for some sweet treats before heading back on the bus to return to the isle of Man...hattan.
Back on the island means time for Wall Street. We lucked out this year and got some time at Trinity Church before they shut it up for the evening.
And then off the Wall Street itself...which has lost some of it's luster over the years...I guess we can't be so ostentatious when we're still coming out of a recession. But after the last of the lights are taken in it's time to pack it up and head home.
So that's my favorite holiday tradition. Feel free to share yours!
Lastly, I mentioned resolutions, so I will say this is mine:
Independence or at least a good deal more of it for this next year...that and of course happiness and peace for my family and friends.
Also I hope to be better at writing more regularly.
What are you trying to tackle this year?
I had a revelation last night! (It wasn't a dream--plus I don't want to rip off Dr. King Jr) As I was lying in bed, attempting to get some sleep (of course, after staring at my computer screen for hours where I couldn't think clearly or creatively), I realized where I'd draw the inspiration from and focus for MY food tours. The seasons. I realize when it's said it sounds a little hokey, and perhaps even too broad, but I realize that is what is inspiring to me, and I think THAT is a great place to start.
Considering I'm trying to get this whole operation up and running for the holidays, I figured it couldn't be more appropriate. Especially as my conversation with a vendor yesterday made it clear to me (from my own words and thoughts even) that marketing the tours I've already got and those I look to creating will be simplest if taking advantage of the seasons in which they'll be most enjoyable/relevant!
Like most people, I do truly love the holiday season. Do I think that we start talking about it too early? Yes, but I would say that's now become true of most things. I mean, I noticed Sam Adams was selling their Oktoberfest beer as early as July/August! As far as my holiday tour is concerned, however, it's dependent upon things that don't operate until the appropriate time! Tried and true traditions that have been around for centuries, decades, or sometimes only a few years, but they don't come until after Thanksgiving, which is just right! Especially because I don't want to skip over Thanksgiving--I'm clearly into eating, so this is one of my favorite holidays!
With that said, I wanted to convey some of My favorite Thanksgiving holiday traditions and treats, and then next week I'll share my Christmastime faves. Please feel free to join in and add your own or share mine with others!
I must start with Thanksgiving Eve. Here in NYC, it's known as the biggest party night of the year! Of course, I am not a club-going kind of gal. What I've been known to do in the past is hang in my old stomping grounds on the Upper West Side--sometimes I'll check out the balloons being blown up, with some spiked cider in tow...other times, I'll skip the crowds and hope to catch a glimpse of the floats making their way down Columbus and Amsterdam at the wee hours of the morning. Regardless of the planned activities, I almost always find a way to bump into other fellow Upper West Siders, which makes this evening reserved for reunions! In fact, this year one of these great gals has officially put together a reunion event at the restaurant where my sister works, so I'm looking forward to an evening of smiley drinky reunion!
The food! It's all about the food! And while the turkey is the main event, we all know we REALLY love the sides. Whenever I cook Thanksgiving dinner, it means we're doing it at my parents' place. This is mostly due to capacity--my apartment is not really capable of hosting anything for more that 3 people, and there's no proper table to speak of. So, usually I leave my good Mother in charge of cooking the bird, as I'm not getting to their place that early...see #1 for the reasons as to why not. Planning is of great importance, however and I usually have already gotten all the necessary items to their place and I have some semblance of how I will stumble through the day in my hungover state. Lots of coffee is usually involved, and in the end we typically end up with a VERY tasty meal. I think the favorite thing I've made was the savory mushroom bread pudding...I know, right?! Even my mother, who's not that big into mushrooms loved it! I really need to do it again sometime. I also really liked the hazelnut butter that I made one year and incorporated into almost everything! Basically, I love the classics...with a twist! What's your favorite?
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. OK, so we have plenty of parades here in the city, and while the Pride Parade and the Halloween Parade (tear, for Sandy making it impossible this year) are both fantastic displays of creativity and uninhibited love and joy, the only two parades that I watch a significant portion of every year are the Thanksgiving Day Parade and St. Patrick's Day...but check back in with me for that in March. Whether I'm at home or at my parent's place these will be on TV. And every Turkey Day the child inside of me comes out to watch with joy and memories of the times I've seen it in person (I've said I grew up on the Upper West Side, so it's really not that much of a challenge to get there---just requires waking up for it). It makes me feel like the holidays are really here.
The National Dog Show. OK, so this has become tradition in the last 5-10 years for us. And it's all thanks to the great film: Best in Show. We watched this movie as a family and now we leave the dog show on after the parade, because it's just so great. No only can you imagine the characters from the movie to be real life people at these things, but the judges and their trainers are fun enough to watch on their own. Plus you get to see lots of adorable dogs. It should be noted, that other than this one show...I don't pay attention to these things at all. Sometimes, depending on the crowd, we'll even put the film on after the real thing is over. What can I say? We love to laugh.
Wine. I love wine, and all things drinkable...ok MOST things. And when I took the Windows on the World Wine Course with Kevin Zraly, he made a great point that one should NOT bring the good stuff to holiday gatherings. Mostly, because people, in general, don't have enough of an appreciation to make the cost worth it. So, my standard wine to bring has become beaujolais nouveau. If you're unfamiliar, it's a French table wine that comes around this time of year only. You could try holding on to it, but it's not strong enough to last a long time. It's delicate and should be consumed with in weeks of purchase, if not days. To me it's the perfect Thanksgiving wine. It's a cheap (Under $10 usually), easy drinking red wine that pairs well with most traditional foods that find their way to your table on this day. The added benefit for me is that my family does actually appreciate quality, and my sister doesn't drink red wine, so it means I'm typically drinking it all on my own--but the gesture has still been made!
Lastly, family. For me, holidays are just really an excuse to hang out with family. But I think the added pleasure about Thanksgiving...the thing that I'm truly Thankful for, is that you don't also have the stress of gift-giving. We just eat a lot, drink even more, and laugh about it all.
Well thanks for indulging me and my list of T-day traditions. Stay tuned for more ho-list-days, and if you're around NYC for one, with nothing to do, try one of my tours and perhaps you'll want to make it a tradition of your very own!