It sounds so cheesy, yet simple. But it’s not. We’re only a few days into the official start of the holiday season, and I already see signs of stress on people’s faces. And I know much of it is due to retailers whoring out their wares at “supposed” deeply discounted prices. Black Friday sales! Cyber Monday sales! Do you know I actually got an email where it announced Cyber WEEK? Are you kidding me? I miss my childhood, when Laurel and Hardy’s “March of the Wooden Soldiers” on Thanksgiving Day was the only thing to remind me the holiday season had begun. And since I work in a restaurant, I am continually reminded of the holidays and my duty to make others happy. But what about me? Sometimes my own happiness during the holiday season gets lost in the shuffle of rushing from one shift to the next. And I don’t want to let that happen this year. The holiday season should be a magical time… where things are possible. At least, that’s what I always thought. So, I’ve decided to make a list of things (in no particular order) that I am looking forward to this holiday season in order to remind myself that the magic is STILL there:
1. Post-work drinks... I know that might sound silly (and possibly alcoholic) to some, but going out after work is a true joy and necessity during the holiday season. Patience IS a virtue, and it certainly can be tested this time of year. That said, it’s nice to bond with your coworkers and exchange stories of the night and laugh about what probably wasn’t funny at the time.
2. Post-Thanksgiving breakfast with my mom… I had to work on Thanksgiving and thus could not enjoy my mom’s turkey with all the fixin’s. That’s okay. Mom is coming into town tomorrow to have breakfast with me and deliver a plate full of leftovers. Can you say string bean casserole? I assure you, that tasty item was NOT on the menu at my restaurant Thanksgiving Day, so I am really looking forward to chowing down on some home cooking!
3. Hallmark Movie Night… Betsy and I were already good friends, but when we discovered a mutual love for Hallmark, well that just sealed the deal. We knew we’d be friends to the end! Our Hallmark movie night is an annual event we started about four years ago and I look forward to it each and every year. We sit on her couch and drink, eat and watch Hallmark movies all night long! No holiday season is complete without Hallmark movies. I mean, who doesn’t want to live in a world where people actually LIKE each other and things always end on a happy note? Sign me up! And this year, we have an additional guest attending and a Hallmark Drinking Game (see card below) to play, so who knows what could happen?
4. Billy Joel concert… Some may say Billy is passé, but I still think he’s cool. I grew up loving ROCK (it wasn’t called “classic” back then because it was current) and NEW WAVE music (that’s what they called alternative music back then for you youngsters who might be reading this). Billy Joel was and is rock and roll to me. He even wrote a song about it for goodness sakes! (“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” for those of you not in the know.) I am thrilled to be going to Madison Square Garden to witness his sold-out monthly residency with my friends from college. We tried to go back in June and when we got to the venue we were told that Billy was sick and wouldn’t be performing. (https://jewoppy.blogspot.com/2017/06/billy-joel-or-bust-one-guess-which-one.html) It was a real bummer at the time since my friends had traveled hours to be there, but now that the show is less than a month away, I’m kind of happy my friends and I can celebrate the holiday season and Billy together!
5. Christmas Lunch with Claire… I sat next to Claire one day in acting class, and my life was forever changed. Besides producing a play together that we both starred in, we have determined we are wine soulmates. She is a wonderful gal whose candor, humor and kindness are much appreciated in my world. Last year we took a break for our hectic lives to have a holiday lunch at a historic restaurant—P.J. Clarke’s—where Buddy Holly supposedly proposed to his future wife on their first date. There are many famous stories of this charming eatery and I had a wonderful time with Claire, bonding, catching up and enjoying the holiday spirit. I’m excited about this year’s outing… historic site to be determined!
6. Montreal… I’m not sure if I sat next to Sue, but like Claire, we also connected in acting class (Matthew Corozine Studio to be exact). My acting studio is like a second home to me, and nothing serves as a testament to that more than the lifelong friends I have made there. This year, I am so excited to be traveling to Montreal to visit Sue and ring in the new year with her (and celebrate my birthday). Sue and I have had many wonderful adventures together over the years and I am so grateful for her friendship this holiday season. And of course the fact that she has an adorable dog named Skoshi just puts the icing on my virtual birthday cake!
7. My cousin Mark’s engagement party… Although Mark is on my dad’s side of the family and thus, Catholic, I would still call him a mensch. (That’s Yiddish for gentleman,) Mark is kind and caring and I couldn’t be happier for him and his fiancée. And now that my dad is gone, it’s especially meaningful to connect with my Italian family—the Laura’s—and celebrate his engagement and the holiday season together. Looking forward to toasting with you, beloved Mark!
8. Rosie Cheeks at the Borgata… Last year, I went with two of my pals, Monica and Rene, to Rosie’s final show and it was AMAZING. Rosie is an incredible performer, full of charm and style. And she has a great sense of comedy too! Something about seeing your good friend (aka Betsy) on stage in such a big venue gives me the goosebumps and I feel such a sense of pride. And when I hear the audience cheering for her (because yes, she is THAT good), I want to stand up with a megaphone and shout, “That’s MY friend up there!!!” (Don’t worry, Rosie, I won’t.) I look forward to seeing another amazing show this year, right after Christmas!
9. My annual Christmas photo at Bryant Park Grill… Hey, no one REALLY wants to work the holidays. While some of us are pretty good at making our peace with it and even having some fun along the way, we’d all rather have a day off if we could. That said, I actually DO manage to have quite a bit of fun working on Christmas Day, and a definite highlight is my annual photo with my coworkers, Shaheen and Yaffa. Shaheen and Yaffa are two people that can smile no matter what is going on around them. How they do it, well, it’s one of those mysteries that will probably never be solved, but it’s remarkable. So who better to pose with in a photo before AND after our shift than the two of them? Yaffa and I have already been talking about wearing matching lipstick in our photos, so watch for it on Facebook, folks!
10. Snow… Hello? What says holiday season in NYC more than snow? I know it can be brutal to get around in, but it’s soooooooooo pretty! I’ll deal with the travel headaches if I can just see the snow falling even ONCE before Christmas.
Wow. That turned out longer than I thought. But it was worth it. Just writing down the things that I’m looking forward to this holiday season already makes my heart feel happier and lighter. Feel free to let me know what you’re looking forward to. And please, let’s try to all have a happy holiday season!