Service of Holiday Traditions

December 12th, 2011

Categories: Christmas, Tradition


One year I wrote about favorite holiday treats and another, I took the pulse of Christmas.

This year I’m focusing on holiday traditions.

One of my favorites is the gathering of a group of friends, some of whom are pictured above. We meet at a Manhattan restaurant–Circus, a charming Brazilian–to celebrate the season: It’s the company holiday party for the entrepreneurs currently, or at one time, associated with the design/architecture/building industries. Elaine Siegel, PR pro and special events planner extraordinaire, is in charge. We chat and feast by ourselves in the back room with its skylight and cheerful atmosphere.

happy-new-yearLast year we were invited to a wonderful New Years Eve party in Connecticut which we were invited to again. Maybe you could call this a tradition-lette. I have disliked New Years Eve parties my entire life-with the exception of two: that one and one my senior year in high school (but who cares about ancient history). Dinner is fabulous in a house dressed for Christmas and our friend’s friends are interesting and welcoming.

Another tradition that’s also  just two years old for me is a concert, “A Judeo-Latin-Jazz Holiday Adventure with Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble,” at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. It’s guaranteed to put you in a good mood. It takes place this Thursday, December 15 at the Engelman Recital Hall, 55 Lexington Avenue. If you want to go, let me know and I’ll find out if there are any tickets left.

toytrainsAnd if you know of any toy train exhibits in NYC so that my husband can enjoy one of his traditions–lost since Citibank discontinued their display–let me know.

So as not to be totally Pollyanna, I must add a holiday peeve: Businesses that do silly things to associate the season with what they sell no matter what. I passed a bar with a sign in the window, decorated with candy canes, for “Peppermint Martinis.” Yech. That’s one tradition that stops soon I hope. I have nothing against peppermint. One of my favorite desserts that a now-defunct restaurant in Dover, NY served all year long was peppermint stick ice cream with homemade hot fudge sauce. Sigh.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Can you also name a few that are real stretches, that seem to fall flat?


10 Responses to “Service of Holiday Traditions”

  1. Claire Coleman Said:

    If I’m correct, the NY Botanical Garden has a set up of trains that is reputed to be extraordinary.

    And, yes, the annual hioliday party sets the stage – and the mood – for the holidays. It’s the pleasure of seeing old friends at least once a year, although our group has, alas, diminished this past year.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Thanks for the tip. I wish that the Botanical Garden wasn’t so far out of the way! [Fussy, fussy!]

    We have an informal save the date for next year so that more of our group can keep that date open for the gathering if possible.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    There’s way too much emphasis on holiday traditions, which are more often than not, laced with predatory commercial overtones. My preferences are those one builds with friends or close relatives, such as periodic get togethers over dinner, or trips to mutually enjoyed performances. One tells of a huge family bash which has become so popular an extra house had to be rented the last time it took place. It’s in mid summer, when the ever hovering dollar enjoys a brief rest.

    Trouble with all of this is that if above ideas were implemented, and the increasingly annoying Santas, hearts, ghosts et al became obsolete, the economy would crash. All manner of stores, catering establishments and a host of like businesses would die and even more homeless would line the streets and soup kitchens. So I guess one must grin and bear it. Time rushes by too fast, and tedious affairs may slow it down.

    As for train exhibits, visit FAO Schwartz. It’s possible there’s a department, if not a floor devoted to them.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    GREAT IDEA: Fao Schwarz! Brilliant.

    One reason I like holiday traditions is that they create excuses to do what I’d love to do ordinarily but rarely do, such as meet a gang of friends for lunch!

    As for the music tradition, it puts me in a good mood and this year I will have friends to enjoy it with me. I tend to go to classical concerts, though I love the sound of Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble and miss hearing jazz so it’s a great treat.

  5. Jan Sileo Said:

    Hi Jeanne,

    Thank you for mentioning The Heritage Ensemble in your blog today. And yes, we too hope it’s a tradition that continues. Tickets are still available.

    See you Thursday night.


  6. EAM Said:

    NYBG hosts the train show in Bronx, NY (you can take Metro North).

    I bought this as a gift for my nephews this year. I think it runs until mid-Jan.

  7. DB Said:

    Hi Jeanne,

    There is indeed a holiday tradition for those who do not celebrate Christmas…Chinese food and a movie on the 25th..

    NOTE: DB also forwarded an image–I can’t copy images to the comment of the blog. It’s a sign made by the Chinese Restaurant Association of the United States thanking the “Jewish people” because their God insists they eat their [Chinese] food on Christmas.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Jan just gave me this information:

    If you would like free tickets to the Thursday, Dec. 15th, 7pm “Judeo Latin-Jazz Holiday Adventure” at Baruch College, please call Jan at 718-552-8213 no later than Dec. 14th.

  9. Ebenezer S. Said:

    For better or worse, most species, including Homo sapiens, impose direct or indirect pressure on each other to conform to the societal standards of their breed. In the case of dogs, bird dogs, for example, are supposed to point. If they do not, they soon loose room and board. In the case of humans, they are supposed to enjoy the holidays and sharing good times with family and friends, and if they don’t, they suffer even tougher consequences.

    Fortunately, or unfortunately depending upon your point of view, we are each made differently. Some of us like everybody. Some of us like nobody. Some of us like most people most of the time. Some of us like some people some of the time. And then a few of us are best suited to being left relatively alone, or being included in small gatherings with kindred souls, something Christmas is certainly not.

    If one is a child and acts out a tendency towards being anti-social, at best one runs the risk of being disliked and perhaps bullied by one’s peers, or at worst, being sent to a shrink to be brain- washed back toward extraverted normalcy. Children do usually learn to conform “for their own good,” not that they don’t revert to form as adults.

    If one is an adult, however, the consequences can be far more serious. Non-conforming behavior hurts loved ones, family and friends, can cause embarrassment and even damage profession prospects and relationships. Consequently, one has no choice but to grin and bear it, and smile and make small talk and pretend, “Oh, what fun it is ….”

    In favor of the holidays is that they last considerably less than a month, and that’s not that long!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I understand everything you say. Most people mean well, I think. The gatherings and traditions aren’t meant to make people feel anxious or unhappy. They offer a sense of stability for some, especially those whose families might otherwise be of a helter skelter nature.

    I hope that there might be a teenie tiny tradition surrounding this or another holiday that you do enjoy. It might be a visit to a great aunt followed by a great ice cream treat in a shop in her town; a tour of a museum; to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall–fill in the blanks.

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