Christmas in the City

I figured one more Christmas themed post would do.

So since the city is filled with wonder for the young and old alike, I took some pictures while is no snow on the ground (we here in the Northeast US) as Bing Crosby would say it’s beginning to look like lot like Christmas more to come!

And those who are total Grinch’s it’s almost over.

Fire escape lights Washington Square Tree IMG_1365 IMG_1314 IMG_1361 IMG_1363P1030195

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These cool shots I’ve taken over the years many more to come!

Merry Christmas

AJS

Bonus check out this video of the on the top Christmas Songs by Watch Mojo.com. Who knew Jingle Bells was meant to be a Christmas song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3Ouj2IMfMQ 

Stepping into Christmas…just which path should you take?

“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.”

This immortal line from the classic Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street sums up my observations of the past few weeks. As the Holiday season goes into full tilt, we are bombarded with the familiar tropes. One, the need to buy gifts for loved ones either the immediate family or close friends, two, the hustle and bustle of trying to get the gifts, and three the trimmings, i.e. the tree, decorations, dinner etc; At the same time there is the classic fight within Christmas. Never have I seen a holiday that creates an inner turmoil that only star-crossed lovers, Woody Allen movies, and Hamlet get stuck with. It all started when the early Christians, who wanted to expand their flock placed Jesus’s birth near the winter solstice, an important holiday in Roman Empire. So important you sang song to your neighbors in the nude. In the short term, it was good idea Romans didn’t have to completely give up their holidays and made the conversion less shocking. However, the merriment that came when they merged the holiday’s together was something few would see coming 2,000 years later.

It’s this Vs….

This Images courtesy of flourishonline.com and puzzles-games.eu

In other words it’s always been a divide between Jesus’s birth and the gift giving merriment that came with it. It’s no wonder Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street feels squeezed. This also has led in the recent fight over two terms for the current season;

Whether to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays.’

If one were to say ‘Merry Christmas’ it acknowledges one holiday but we all know they are more than just one and ‘Happy Holiday’s’ tries to be the more inclusive phrase to say when multiple holidays share the week or month.

Yet the debate over whether or not we should use one or the other is at times both mystifying and silly.

The debate works out like this; those in favor of ‘Happy Holiday’s’ (HH), say that it benefits those who don’t normally celebrate or observe Christmas and prevents the crowding out  effect that Christmas often does to other holidays that are celebrated in the vicinity of Christmas such as Hanukah and Kwanza. It also reduces the risk of the assumption that everyone celebrates the same holiday.

On the other end of the spectrum those who favor ‘Merry Christmas’ (MC), say that one holiday does not equate the other and putting them all together makes them less meaningful. They also claim that choosing HH prohibits their freedom of speech and the expression of their faith. MC’s also argue that many other ethnic minority groups don’t grouse about saying HH and really don’t care one way or the other on the matter.

So to sum up the fight is between evangelical Christians against Atheists and those who prefer to be politically correct.

To be fair, evangelicals are trying to at least bring back the Christ in Christmas, who argue that the holiday has become too secular. At the same time however, those who advocate for HH say we do have to acknowledge that our world is no longer the one of Norman Rockwell like bliss and it would be foolish to think that Christmas is some sort of purity contest.

A few years back, the debate took a strange turn when a church in Dallas, which will remain anonymous, created a ‘Grinch Alert’ for businesses that did not use the word Christ, Santa or followed what they considered ‘traditional’ Christmas.

Those businesses who did not comply with these requirements were on their so-called naughty list and the church’s parishioners could avoid these place during the holiday season.

The businesses they went after included a local bank for not having a Christmas tree, a major airline for saying holiday’s too much and if that wasn’t enough, a cashier doomed an entire department store because him or her said ‘you too’ instead of saying MC to the customer back. Talk about getting scrooged

Others in the Dallas religious community immediately disagreed with the method of how the church attacked these businesses saying it made everyone look bad and proved once again that the U.S. Constitution is a two way street. If you can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre, you definitely can’t tell half a city that they have to adhere to a standard for Christmas because you think you first amendment rights are being threatened. (Which I highly doubt the founding fathers thought it was going to get this personal).

I myself have often found myself torn between the two. I think personally we should alternate, one of the best things about Christmas is that you make your own traditions and never apologize for how you choose to celebrate. Of course, you choose to allow how you need Christmas in your life, just remember two things; it’s not a purity contest and keep your heart and head open.

After that is what Christmas is all about, the joy you pass on to others.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Festivus for the rest of us and Winter Solstice if your Wicca. And have a Happy New Year!

Farewell DeRobertis.

Since i’m not quite at liberty to say where I work per se (still trying to figure that out), but there was one thing i always saw while i was at work but always wanted to get in. It was the DeRobertis Pastry shop or ‘pasticceria’ in the old world that was New York in the 20th century. Not only has the store been around for generations and a part of the Lower East Side turned East Village fabric, its very existence defined that old New York that many in my generation and those past are yearning to revisit or retain. It is no longer the buildings that we want to preserve but rather the institutions and places that make up the neighborhood. Alas DeRobertis closed it’s door and turned off the sign on December 6 2014 at 3 p.m. EST.

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The full sign but with the word pastry out of order

The full sign but with the word pastry out of order

My first and sadly last visit to the shop capped off three years of passing this 110 year old institution. I visited the place on Sunday my day off and found the place full of people like me who wanted to get a final look of the place. Steeping into the shop and cafe felt like entering a time warp in the calmest of sense. I mean when we think of old buildings which managed to retain their decor for years with many changes are not only rare but rather inaccessible for most people on a regular basis.

Wide shot of interior

Wide shot of interior

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The tile work looks cleaner than the ones on the subway!

The tile work looks cleaner than the ones on the subway!

The glass etchings, people don't even think about doing this kind of thing anymore!

The glass etchings, people don’t even think about doing this kind of thing anymore!

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As time slowly wound down I made my order. When I get older and reminisce on my youth i will say my first Anisette cookie was at DeRobertis.

If you are wondering why after years of serving the community, why would they leave? Well as the old saying goes ‘there ‘ goes the neighborhood’, the East Village may not be as dangerous in the ‘Rent’ era, the people who live here now aren’t necessarily pastry shop friendly. They treat Cannoli’s, Cheesecake and Cookies as if it’s the Ebola virus. So newcomers to the neighborhood took the place for granted and those like me saw it as part of the neighborhood window dressing, we did so at our own peril. While the family that owns the shop hasn’t plotted their next move, I hope it tastes sweeter.

In the meantime Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” came on while I was visiting, the song seem to take on extra meaning. Here’s a link to add to the mood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n92ATE3IgIs

-AJS

Bonus pick where did their loyalties lie???? I’ll never find out.

Sweet debate

Sweet debate