The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

When it comes to the holiday season, there’s no place quite as magical as NYC. For many years though, I’ve dreaded the period between Thanksgiving and New Years– a time when I always feel the loss of my beloved parents more acutely. Now, at long last, I am finally appreciating what I have and trying not to dwell on what I don’t.

With a more festive perspective in mind, I happily invited my beloved cousin Alexandra to experience an annual Pierre Hotel tradition and first for me- the tree lighting in Two E lounge.

Alexandra and me in Two E

The festive event featured live music from Grammy-winning sax player Frank Catalano, and festive cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. As always, Alex and I talked the night away, catching up on work, life and plans for 2018. Like the city that surrounds it, The Pierre is a winter wonderland, with colorful holiday decor throughout the lobby and public areas.

Decorating my own abode was lot more fun than its been in awhile–especially now that my home is finally a reflection of me instead of the past.

Continuing the interfaith traditions I experienced as a child, I have both a Christmas tree and a menorah. I thought of my Dad with every candle I lit during Hanukkah. And how fortunate I was and am to have grown up with two parents who exemplified the beauty of honoring both religions, teaching me that what matters ultimately is having and honoring faith–not which house you worship in. I think of that powerful, healing lesson a lot in these divisive times and how much better the world would be if there was more of such mutual respect for spirituality.

All smiles and hugs with my Mount Holyoke dear friends Ahu (middle) and Sara

One of my favorite traditions growing up was our annual holiday party, a large gathering of family and close friends. With Dad’s birthday in mid-December and Hanukkah often bumping up against Christmas, there was always plenty to celebrate. Since 2008, every year except one, I have hosted an intimate soiree at my place. After skipping it last year because of my depression, I felt doubly blessed to have an evening with some of my dearest friends and family.

It was a perfect night from start to finish. There was yummy Italian food (from a fabulous neighborhood caterer), decadent drinks (wine, rum-infused eggnog and vodka shots) and decadent desserts (I made my late Grandpa’s vanilla pudding and first ever cinnamon-sugar monkey bread). And lots of laughter, affection and, of course, love for Benji.

This was Benji’s first big event at home since I adopted him in July. Like everything else, he handled it with charm and grace–happily seeking out belly rubs and parking himself near all the action. Several friends brought gifts for my little guy, who has become one of the best dressed pups on the Upper East Side!

Benji and I with the glow of my tree and menorah

The holiday festivities continued in Delaware, with a visit to my brother and sister in law Ray and Barb. We enjoyed an intimate Christmas full of reminiscing and watching our dogs hit it off with each other.

Friday, after a delightful lunch in Midtown with my dear cousin Carla, I walked over to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. Despite the bitterly cold temperatures, I felt a warmth envelop me as I thought about how far I’ve come since last Christmas.

Rockefeller Center selfie!

A year ago, I felt joyless and unable to appreciate anything about the holidays, wishing them away like I have so often since my parents died. Now, thanks to feeling whole again and my sweet Benji, I treasured every part of this season.

Even for a writer like me, it’s difficult to put into words the gratitude I feel for the new beginning that God has given me. 2017 will always be the year that I found my way back to the light–and to a new chapter as a dog mom. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

Happy New Year all!


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