Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas memories

Of course my childhood memories of Christmas are the best. Baking cookies, opening presents and watching it snow. But I have some good grown-up Christmas memories too. Here are a few:

When I was working as a film critic, I traveled to NYC for the "Elf" movie junket. I stayed in the lovely Essex House hotel, which was all decked out for Christmas in grand style. After screening the film with the rest of the journalist shlubs, we got back on the shuttle and found ourselves deposited at the Empire State building for a "cocktail reception." This was news to us, but we boarded the elevators, sure that it would just be attended by other hacks like ourselves. We arrived at the top floor, and soon we were joined by members of the cast and crew, including Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, James Caan, and the talented director John Favreau. Servers offered festive red drinks garnished with candied rims and candy canes, along with hand-decorated cutout cookies in the shapes of various New York iconic landmarks. And the view, the view. I got to meet some pretty interesting people that night. Fabulous!

In December three years ago, Hubz was performing a Christmas concert in a classic old movie theater in St. Charles, Illinois (near my old stomping grounds of Chicago). We pulled up in the tour bus about 9 in the morning, and piled out of the bus, having slept all night in the cramped bunks. We were happy to find a Starbucks right in the venue, and immediately settled in by a window for coffee drinks and scones. St. Charles is a small town that has an abundance of cottages made over as gift shops. At Christmas time it's magical, with each more festively decorated than the last. So there we were, in the midst of this adorable town, and suddenly we hear music and marching bands - the annual Christmas parade had begun ... right outside the Starbucks window. And then, as if on cue, it began to snow. What a glorious sight. Later, I got to hear my talented husband perform Christmas music on a gorgeous grand piano to a joyous, sold-out crowd. Magical.

Last December, I was offered a media pass to the TPAC performance of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." I was dying to go, but had to admit to the publicist I couldn't promise any media coverage of the event. She said that was OK and let me come anyway. What a treat. My favorite musical, featuring such classic songs as "Sisters," "Counting my Blessings," and "The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing." A fantastic production. I was in heaven. And at the end of the show, they sprinkled the audience with fake snow. Loved every minute!

Oh, I just have to tell one more:
Last Christmas, on Christmas Eve, to be exact, Jack Henry miraculously conked out at about 7 p.m. and Hubz and I settled in by the fire and the Christmas tree. We had invited a neighbor over but were glad when she didn't show up. We so rarely have quiet time to ourselves. It was great to hold hands and talk about everyday things. There's something wonderful about the sparkling Christmas lights and the crackling fire that make you glad to be alive. So simple - yet so perfect.

Tonight we're going to watch "White Christmas" on TV - if Jack Henry will let us, that is. If not, it may be the Grinch or Rudolph, and that's OK too.

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