Category Archives: Traditions

Let’s have a parade! Macy’s announces plans for modified 2020 Thanksgiving Day parade

Yes, there will be balloons.

Though, Macy’s employees won’t be marching the balloons down the street. Specialized vehicles will be!

But the magic of a miles-long parade will be condensed into one block at the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, the company announced Monday.

The 94th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC — just as we’ve come to know.

“While it will certainly look different in execution, this year’s Macy’s Parade celebration will once again serve its historical purpose — to bring joy into the hearts of millions across the nation,” Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, said in a prepared statement.

Read more from The AP.

The Macy’s Parade will go on, but…

The global pandemic has put a pause on a lot of our traditions — for good reason.

Some events have figured out ways to go on — including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And organizers plan to take a page from the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show to help plan the parade.

“Everything is going to be different,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said, CNN reported.

So what could we see different this year?

“Some is going to be virtual. There might be some small in-person pieces, spread out pieces, it’s not going to look at all of course like how we are used to. But the important thing is, the traditions will be kept in some way,” de Blasio said.

Only 364 days to go…

The Christmas tree in our living room
Fills the room with pine perfume
And colored lights dancing on the walls
While Nat King Cole sings “Deck The Halls”
Don’t you get the sense tonight
That for now the world is right
And as another Christmas ends
My mind drifts and once again
I’m thinking like a six year old
Only 364 days to go

This Brad Paisley song had to work a day later due to leap year.

Enjoy the full song here.

Gift-giving blues this Christmas

It’s no secret I love the holidays (I mean, I did start a website called It’s Christmas 365).

But gift-giving is another story.

As I write this – a mere two days before my family exchanges gifts – I’ve not purchased one gift.

It isn’t that I’m in a frumpy Christmas mood.

Quite the opposite: This probably ranks among my favorite holiday seasons in recent memory.

I dislike the transactional feel of buying gifts – as though, we must buy gifts simply because that is what one does at this time of year.

I’ve never been one to hop into Target or Macy’s or go on Amazon to buy everything. I’ve made such an effort to think local – not necessarily small, but local. For instance, I usually give someone Eat’n Park gift cards. Last year, I gifted my parents a weekend stay at the Sheraton hotel on Erie’s Bayfront.

I like the gift of experience, but my family members don’t seem to be interested in those things. Several years ago, I bought my parents tickets to Kennywood Park. They’d been saying how they hadn’t been there, so I thought it would be great. My mom loved it when she opened it on Christmas Eve.

Fast forward to the summer and I kept asking when they were going. Mid-August rolled around and the tickets hadn’t been used. Someone on Facebook was seeking tickets to the park and I asked my mom if I could have them back to give them to someone who would use them.

My mother’s idea of gift-giving is very transactional: buy things people need. I’m sure I’ll get jeans because she thinks I need them, for example.

I encourage her to be creative. She explains how she’s too busy all month getting ready for one night that she doesn’t have time.

“So let’s change how we do Christmas,” I say. But that’s quickly nixed because she wants to continue the same idea of traditions she has known forever.

It’s hard to change mindsets – especially when people yearn for “the good ol’ days” (whatever those mean for people).

I’d prefer much more of a seasonal celebration – taking in the sights and sounds of events and activities that happen during November and December.

My mom, on the other hand, is a firm believer in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day being this huge production. She loves the entire season, but can’t see beyond Dec. 24-25.

A friend explained to me his family’s list-sharing experience, where they offer lists of items each of them want. So each family member goes and buys things from that list. There’s no element of surprise or room for creativity. While some of the items are useful, I’m hard-pressed to think opening many of the items on his family’s lists would be exciting.

Other friends have shared similar sentiments with me about their families. I recently told a friend (and fellow Christmas enthusiast) that I hadn’t started shopping. He was shocked, but when I explained why, he understood and then offered his own examples of family members buying practical gifts.

Not to turn this into a damn the corporations! post, but … big business wins when we believe the only way to celebrate Christmas is with gifts.

The gift-giving aspect isn’t what my Christmas is about. My Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, making memories, enjoying anything with peppermint in it!

And it isn’t that I dislike giving gifts. I buy gifts for some friends, getting them things I think they’d like. I don’t buy them socks (well, I did buy a friend socks this year, but they’re funny) or jeans.

If I was even the slightest bit crafty, I would make things for people.

Gifts certainly are a great way to show affection, respect, thanks to those we care about. Gifts can be small and inexpensive or whatever we want them to be.

It all goes back to the Grinch: “He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”

Christmas memories, changing traditions

As a brief introduction, I actually wrote the following as a Facebook post on Dec. 17, 2014. I find myself feeling the same this year, and I know many other people feel, or have felt, this way as well. I thought I would share this again with new readers.

I was waxing sentimental about the holidays and change. Here’s my rambling post about it.

Things change.

People get older, get married, have children, move away, fade away, pass away.

Never are life’s inevitable changes impressed upon me more than during the holidays, especially Christmas.

I love tradition and consistency. Long after my brothers and I had outgrown the magical fantasies of Christmas, we still insisted presents not be placed under the tree until after we had gone to bed. And we still woke early on Christmas morning to dig into our stockings and then sit in the dark living room with only the tree lights on until our parents were up and ready to start the day. 

We grew up going to Grandma and Grandpa Garrett’s house for Christmas Eve, and then to Grandma and Grandpa Onestak’s house on Christmas Day and cousin Patty’s house on Christmas night.

Quite often I would spend the night of Dec. 23 at my grandparents’ house. I can remember waking in the morning in a chilly room and an antique bed, warm under layers of sheets and blankets, listening to my grandmother in the kitchen, cooking and singing along to Christmas carols on the radio.

I loved those mornings and the anticipation of the days to come. I looked forward to not only presents, as children do, but seeing all of our family and having a big family dinner and playing games and visiting relatives.

Over the years the natural changes in life have also changed those traditions. I’ve accepted those changes and embraced new traditions, but sometimes I really miss the way things used to be.

This year I miss the old traditions more than ever. Life’s circumstances are once again changing the holidays and how we celebrate, or, in some cases, how we don’t celebrate. I get the feeling that the next few years are going to be full of more changes, and it may be awhile before we get settled into a new holiday routine.

Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy our family and friends and watch my children experience the magic of Christmas, and I’ll treasure all of my childhood memories.

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on, 
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years 
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

‘Feel the Love of Christmas’ one final time

Monday night was the first last “Feel the Love of Christmas” concert at Heinz Hall. Tuesday night was the last last “Feel the Love” concert there.

For more than 20 years, B.E. Taylor lit up the holiday season with his recognizable voice, smile and positivity – selling out concerts across the tri-state region.

The beloved Aliquippa native died in August 2016. His son – B.C. Taylor – and other family members and longtime friends have celebrated his life and love of the holiday season with fans for the last three years.

But the show will come to an end Dec. 23 with a final performance where it all began – Wheeling, West Virginia.

I’ve loved B.E. Taylor’s Christmas music for as long as I can recall. I’d watch him sing at the old Horne’s/WPXI sing-along shows and the Kaufmann’s Celebrate the Season parade, as well as his performances on WQED-TV and on 94.5 3WS and Wish 99.7.

The tribute shows have served as a time to celebrate the season and to reflect on a talented man who loved his family, the season and his fans. Portions of a live recording at Heinz Hall were embedded into the show, letting B.E. Taylor’s voice shine for all to hear.

“The fact that people still want to come and celebrate, even with dad begin gone, is such a tribute to what he created and what everyone on stage created and the fact that we get to say goodbye on our terms and let this go and send everybody out feeling the love of Christmas one more time, it’s the way I wanted to do this,” B.C. Taylor told WTOV-TV.

B.C. Taylor said the family decided to end the show’s run because of the emotional toll it takes.

“It weighs on me or my family, and I just feel that it’s time to move on, but I wanted anyone that wanted to come and sing ‘Feel the Love’ or ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ or whatever, see the drumline come down, I wanted them to have the opportunity to do it one more time,” B.C. Taylor said.

When B.E. Taylor released his first Christmas album in 1994, he had already been a solidified musician, reaching No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1984 with “Vitamin L,” which was written by fellow bandmate and friend Rick Witkowski.

In a 2016 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary story, bandmate Hermie Granati talked about who B.E. Taylor was as a person and not a musician.

“All the superlatives have been said about his musicianship, but the guy that we knew, when he talked to you, he made you feel like you were the most important person in the room,” Granati said. “Very at ease and very comfortable being himself. There was a light emanating from Bill, and he pulled everyone into that light. He wore his faith on his sleeve and he lived it.”

At the time of B.E. Taylor’s death, WDVE’s morning show host said he was “the kind of person that you strive to be. He was kind, he was thoughtful, he was happy and full of love for his friends and family. There wasn’t an ounce of pretense to B.E.”

The final performances for the show are Dec. 21 in Indiana and Dec. 23 in Wheeling. For ticket information, visit the concert site.