Many of us have a Christmas  story to tell.  This is mine.

I decorated this Christmas tree in 2012. Michael had died earlier that year. After 8 years of living in Henderson, Nevada, our house was already sold and I was busily packing to move back to Aspen. The reality was if I ever was to have a tree again, it was now. As I remember, my Energy said, “No.” My Mind insisted, “Do it.”

I always spend the holidays in Henderson/Las Vegas where we used to live. It’s fun to visit The Strip to see the elaborate  Christmas decorations. The Majestic Holiday Magic exhibit  at the Bellagio’s conservatory is worth a visit. 

The many Artic polar bears on display are made of thousands of white carnations. 

I love everything about this Season. Being married to a Jewish guy meant we robustly celebrated all his holidays as well as mine. My girls are the better for it. To say I always over-decorated is not an understatement. So I decided, if this was a GO, I would GO all out. 

Just checking to see if the pink flamingos are still in residence at the Flamingo casino. And, they are.  To my surprise, so are Donnie and Marie.
It’s never too early to drop by the Petrossian Caviar & Champagne Bar to sip,  savor and listen to classical music. (It was 10:00 am.)

My neighbors, Ray and Dom, were good guys, happily lending their brains or brawn to our every need. I asked them to help me choose an artificial eight feet tall Christmas tree. We visited Big Box stores and found the perfect one which they hauled home, unboxed and put together. They also carried down boxes of decorations from my attic storage area. Yeah, they weren’t feeling the love by then!

Although many of you may be aware of this new ATM offering, this was a first for me.
Select the cupcake of your choice.

Wait for it. 

Within a week even Martha Stewart would have been impressed by my decor, especially the tree. Every ornament/bauble carried a memory and I relived each one as I hung it. After four months of profound sadness and anxiety about the future, this tree represented my Life’s Joys. There was nothing sad about it.

Honestly, these two police volunteers didn’t make me feel safer but they were having a great time. 
The city is crazy about their  Vegas Golden Knights, the new professional ice hockey team that began play in the 2017–18 NHL season. They earned a place in the Championship game and almost brought home the trophy. Everyone is a Knight. 

I shared that beautiful Christmas tree with anyone I could drag off the street, entertain or ply with food and drink. Every night I ate dinner on a table next to it. It remained up until the end of January when I packed up the decorations. The guys dismantled the tree, moving it to their home.

I ate lunch at my favorite restaurant, Estiatorio Milos, in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. My first course was Mediterranean octopus, char-grilled, served on a bed of santorini pureed fava beans. My first experience with octopus. I liked. 
I really thought my  main course, Dorade Royale, grilled Mediterranean Sea Bream, was delicious but I never bonded with the fish head.
Since  Milos is a Greek restaurant I felt obliged to sample the Baklava.

Now, five years later, my holidays are totally different. Not worse. Not better. Just different. Every year I leave Snow Country and return to spend the holiday seasons here in the Las Vegas area where we once lived. I spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my Bishop family. Surrounded by friends and family, what could be better?

Whenever bread was delivered to the tables at Milos, someone would come with an oregano plant and snip off 5 or 6 leaves to drop in the small bowl of olive oil. 

At this time of year, especially, the weight of those less fortunate/alone/sick/family separations weighs a little heavier on me. I assuage the guilt of my good fortune, if that’s the correct term, by remembering there are always Pay It Forward opportunities in Thought, Word and Deed to do. Kindness comes in all forms.

Last week an elderly woman (probably my age) was struggling to maneuver her walker through Von’s electric door. The door kept trying to close. To my dismay, other shoppers just walked in through the adjacent door. The woman was frightened and embarrassed. Feeling disgusted but determined, I held that pesky door open while maneuvering the woman/walker through it. I left her at the banana bin after countless thank you’s. Sometimes Kindness takes less than 5 minutes.  The End of my Story.  

If  breakfast is supposed to last for three hours,  last Sunday we made that happen. These women all lived near us in the Anthem Country Club complex and we had lots to share. Kathy (L) is a German language  professor at UNLV; her mother, Trudy, grew up in Germany during  Hitler’s regime; and our hostess, Ardyth, was the first Director of the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies, UNLV. 


This week the beloved Ina Garten, known to many as the Barefoot Contessa, and her husband, Jeffrey, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. She has been posting photos of their life together on Instagram every day. I pulled out her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, published in 1999 and decided to bake her Maple-Oatmeal Scones in their honor. I taste-tested them at breakfast with my friends. Why did I wait 20 years to bake these little darlings. They were delicious. Here’s the Link. 

Maple-Oatmeal Scones by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.