Holidays captured


Christmas has always been my favorite holiday of the year. I love Christmas cookies, eggnog (now in latte form), twinkling lights, buying gifts, opening cards from far-away friends. . .all of it. Even the year my husband lost his job a month before the holidays, when we had to cut waaaaay back on our gift-giving, I still loved it.

And even though I lost my dad almost six years ago just a few days shy of Christmas, at least this is such a time of reflection and family, I always have time to sit by the tree, look at the lights and think about all he did for us.

But, it’s hard, isn’t it? Hard to keep up the energy required to be a parent at Christmas. It’s the shopping that mostly gets me down—-not the actual picking out of gifts (which I love to do), but the barrage of ads, the midnight sales, the “what do they want?” questions from everyone.

The tick-tick-tick in my head makes me wake with a stomachache and sweaty palms most mornings. I recently wrote on Facebook: Confession: I’m so not in the Christmas spirit this year. It’s usually my favorite holiday, but I’m not feeling it this year.

I can’t change the commercialism or the ticking clock, but I did sign up for another photography journaling class—this one aptly named Picture the Holidays.

And, strangely, it’s working. Looking at the holidays from behind the lens of my little point-and-shoot, reminding myself to: Stop, Hold Still and Just Look, is working.




What helps you get in the Christmas spirit?

And, did you know that I thought eggnog was supposed to be served hot until a couple of years ago?

Who will you support on Small Business Saturday? Here’s my pick. . .

Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They’re offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for “Likes” of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the “Like” button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.

Long before Etsy, before I had Cool Mom Picks, before I had ever been to a craft show that featured things other than crocheted potholders, I had Oop.

Oop was a little store that opened on Thayer Street in Providence, RI back in 1990, the year after I graduated from college. It was colorful, eclectic, silly and totally unique, and I was hooked the first day I walked through those doors.

Full of local and not-so-local American craft and art from people I’d never see in the big-box stores, it was here that I found the funniest, most unusual cards and gifts for my friends and family.


It is where I drooled over Elise Moran’s pretty jewelry and the super-colorful furniture by Sticks that cost way beyond what my media planner salary could ever afford. Where I would go back just to see what new things would be hanging in the windows or lying on the tables.

Years passed and I moved away, but I’d stop by Oop’s new locations whenever I went down to Rhode Island: the small store tucked away in the Providence Place Mall and then, last winter, in downtown Providence across from Craftland.

This week, I found Oop’s latest location: in the spankin’ new Legacy Place shopping area in Dedham, MA. Isn’t it fortuitous that it is even closer to me now?


And after writing for Cool Mom Picks for the past few years, I had to smile at how many products we’ve covered that I saw in front of me on my last visit to the store. No wonder I love my job so much—it reminds me of that day twenty years ago when a little store opened my world to what amazing things were out there to be discovered.

So tell me, what is your favorite small business? Feel free to leave their name and website address in the comments.

Are you a local? I also listed one of my favorite local toy shops–they gift wrap!–on Cool Mom Picks along with the rest of our staff.

Small Business Saturday

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


It’s November which can only mean that my Reader has exploded with people keeping up with some abbreviated form of I’m going to write a blog post every day for the month of November.

I guess the idea is that daily writing is important to perfect the craft of writing, which I could probably use, but I honestly don’t get it. Especially when the daily post is I don’t have anything to say but I needed to put something on my blog before midnight.

I love the other November daily writing exercise which has to do with starting a novel and writing every day during the month until it is complete—I think this is a neat idea with real merit. But, the daily blogging thing makes me weep when I open up my Reader and see how many posts I have not read, will never get to read, especially with the holiday crush already upon us.

The one good thing about this daily blog posting is that one of my favorites, Halushki, has come out of retirement to write.

Me though? I’m going to lay low for a while longer until the month is over. The internet is already noisy enough.