A Very Merry Sewickley

‘Twas a week before Christmas and all through the town,
Shoppers trekked through stores and wouldn’t let the rain get them down.

I spent a little bit of time in Sewickley on Sunday afternoon, taking in the beautiful window displays and shops — despite some rain and less than seasonable weather (it was too warm!).

On select days throughout the month, festive music plays over loudspeakers, Santa sits at the town gazebo and visitors can take a horse-drawn carriage around the block.

My first stop was into House 15143, which looks more like somewhere I want to live than a store. The beautifully designed windows could pull even the Grinch into the holiday spirit. But the festive feelings don’t end there.

Inside, the shop is filled with so many wonderful accents. Their decorations offer such a vintage Christmas feel — with old-school blow mold candles, very welcoming Santa faces and so much more.

There were so many ornaments and decorations I wanted that it was hard to limit myself!

I also visited Gather and found myself in a similar situation — trying very hard to not buy everything!

Many businesses in the town have beautifully designed windows, too.

Take a look at the gallery below. House 15143 was, by far, my favorite. But Consign Sewickley, Gather and Pizza Roma all had windows that just stood out to me.

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12 Sleeps to Christmas: Special ornaments

Some people theme trees with colors, patterns or styles.

While themed trees look beautiful, I prefer trees that truly represent a person or family through the ornament choices.

My family’s main tree is filled with a number of handcrafted and store bought ornaments — many of which tell the stories of our lives.

Whether it’s an ornament showcasing the Pittsburgh skyline, Myrtle Beach or “baby’s first Christmas,” they all tell a story.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite ornament. I love all of the ornaments depicting Kaufmann’s Clock and the Horne’s tree. My Kennywood Park ornaments (especially the wooden pieces of coaster track) are great, too.

But the ornaments I love most are the ones from my grandparent’s tree.

They are simple glass balls with designs.

Most are in OK shape with some obvious signs that they’re old.

I don’t put all of these special ones on the tree. Some remain in the containers so to try to protect some of them.

They sit near the top to avoid being swatted by a dog’s tail.

I wish I knew more about their origin — what store they’re from, who designed them, if they’re part of a larger collection.

I know nothing about them except that they were part of my grandparents’ tree for decades.

As a kid I remember helping my grandma hang them on her tree.

Real or fake? In defense of artificial trees

My tree for 2018 — decorated in all red, green, and gold.

Real or artificial tree?

The age-old debate when it comes to putting up one of the holiday season’s most recognizable symbols.

I’ll tell you now, I’m a fan of the artificial tree. But I have my reasons why!

And it’s not that I do not appreciate a real tree.

In fact, I love them! The organic, unpredictable shape, the smell, the way a real tree just looks…well, real.

Most artificial trees, unless you spend beaucoup bucks, cannot accurately replicate the look of nature.

But again, I have my reasons for choosing artificial.

First and foremost, I start decorating on November 1 and I do not usually take my trees down until the middle or end of January.

That means I need a tree that will last me almost three months.

Real trees are not ideal candidates for that length of festive celebrating.

Second, like any proper Christmas-a-holic, I put up more than one tree every year.

In my house this year I only have three up and decorated.

However, that does not include the other three still sitting in boxes in my basement. I decided to mix things up and redo most of my décor this season.

The other three trees do not match my theme, so they stay tucked away until next year.

But buying five or six real trees every year is not economical. On top of that, watering and maintaining that many real trees is work I do not want to do.

My third reason for choosing an artificial tree is the ability to bend the branches to support decorations and ornaments where I want to put them.

The branches can easily be bent to hold an ornament in place or to move out of the way and allow it to hang freely.

Real trees do not give me that freedom, though.

If the ornament does not fit in a particular location, I’m forced to decide – do I want it to look funny all season or move it? The ease with which I can have the tree bend to look the way I want it to is a definite advantage to having an artificial tree.

But don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely against real trees!

My family has gone out and cut down our own tree several times.

That tree usually sits outside on the back porch. It gets decorated with lights and those large, light-up woodland yard animals like birds or squirrels you find in stores (I like to use Christmas decorations in unexpected ways).

That tree sits in front of the patio door since we do not open it during the winter and we get to look at a tree while eating dinner every night!

The process of going out to cut down your own tree at a tree farm is quintessential Christmas — one I enjoy.

But for practicality, I’ll stick to my artificial trees. It just makes sense for me and my lifestyle.

Holiday TV for Dec. 3: ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Krampus,’ ‘Prancer’

Here’s a look at the holiday specials, reruns, classics and more on TV today!

  • 9 a.m. — “The Little Drummer Boy,” the 1968 Rankin/Bass animated cartoon, Freeform
  • 11:04 a.m. — “Home Alone,” Starz Encore Classic
  • 12:49 p.m. — “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” Starz Encore Classic
  • 4 p.m. — “Christmas at Graceland,” the 2018 movie with Kellie Pickler, Hallmark
  • 4 p.m. — “The Spirit of Christmas,” the 2015 movie with Jen Lilley, Lifetime
  • 6 p.m. — “Jingle All the Way,” the 1996 movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, AMC
  • 6 p.m. —  “Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas,” Hallmark
  • 7 p.m. — “Meet the Peetes,” Hallmark
  • 7 p.m. — “Return to Christmas Creek,” the 2018 movie with Steven Weber, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • 7:25 p.m. — “The Santa Clause,” the 1994 movie with Tim Allen, Freeform
  • 7:45 p.m. — “Krampus,” the 2015 horror flick, FXM
  • 8 p.m. — “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” ABC
  • 8 p.m. — “Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa,” the 2018 movie with Holly Robinson Peete, Hallmark
  • 8:46 p.m. — “Home Alone,” Starz Encore Classic
  • 8:55 p.m. — “Muppet Babies, Disney Jr
  • 11 p.m. — “The Cast of A Christmas Story: Where Are They Now,” Pop
  • 3:30 a.m. — “Prancer,” the 1989 movie with Sam Elliott, AMC

Find more holiday shows tonight and throughout the season at christmastvschedule.com.

Festival of Lights: Hanukkah begins Dec. 2

Heat up the latkes! Spin the dreidels!

It’s time for Hanukkah!

The eight-day holiday known as the Festival of Lights begins at sundown Dec. 2. Hanukkah ends at night on Dec. 10.

Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the third month of the Jewish calendar. The date changes each year.

As the story goes … after Judah Maccabee’s revolt to drive the Syrians out of Jerusalem in 168 B.C., he asked for a menorah to be lit.

But only a night’s worth of oil was left. The menorah was lit anyway, and ended up lasting eight nights.

Each year, those who observe the Jewish faith light one candle of their menorah each night. The menorah usually it displayed where all can see — in a window, for example.

Of course, Hanukkah is not the most important Jewish holiday. Those include Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Baby 1st? Put down the eggnog, Target.

OK, Target, who spiked the eggnog and then created this ornament?

photo by: Kelly MeredithCheck out this ornament Target is selling to celebrate what we think is a baby’s first Christmas.

But we’ll never actually know since, well, it just doesn’t tell us.

“Baby 1st” … first child? Baby before husband? Baby before Facebook? BABY FIRST, TARGET SECOND.

What are you trying to tell us, TARGET!

Each year I hang several ornaments that family members got to mark my first several Christmases.

None are as awkwardly written or bland as this one. 🤣

Check out Pittsburgh’s own Polar Express

Port Authority’s Twitter page

“Take a bus, take a train” are lyrics in Canonsburg native Perry Como’s popular “No Place Like Home for the Holidays” song.

Perhaps even Como never realized how literal his lyrics would end up, blending public transit with the holidays.

But Port Authority of Allegheny County staffers have been decorating some buses for years.

And this year, the authority dedicated its first holiday-themed light rail train (or T, as we call it).

Amy Duffy has decorated her bus for the last few years. Her 41 route takes her through Mt. Lebanon, South Fayette, Bridgeville, Collier and Carnegie.

The Pittsburgh Trib’s Signal Item newspaper chronicled her in 2017.

The newspaper covered her again in 2018.

Port Authority’s spokesman said the agency has about five or six buses decorated.

If I ever run across one of these decked out rides, I might purposefully miss my stop!