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Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

Holiday lights

February
13

cat.jpgOn a holiday shopping trip at Target in December, I just happened to look up on a high shelf and spot a really, really cute purple glitter Christmas tree that was just 2 feet tall. Purple happens to be Pumpkin’s favorite color — by far. Her room is purple, so that may be what triggered the obsession, but obsession it is.

“What color are mama’s eyes?”
“Purple.”

“What color is the sky?”
“Purple”

Me, singing: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey.”
Pumpkin: “… when skies are purple.”

So, the purple tree was irresistible. I thought it might be a fun novelty for the holidays. But then a wonderful thing happened. A spur-of-the-minute gift turned into a tradition. Every night before bed, we turned on the tree’s lights before reading books. Then we turned off the lamp and sang peaceful Christmas carols to the soft glow of the tree. Over the course of a month, we got used to the ritual. When it came time to put away the holiday decor, we all missed the tree.

So, I started thinking about finding another kind of light, one that would be appropriate the whole year around. Taking my cue from Pumpkin’s other obsession — cats — I found the Siamese cat lamp by Offi (pictured above) at <a href=”http://www.oompa.com/” target=”_blank”>Oompa toys</a>.

It’s in a box waiting for Pumpkin to open tomorrow for Valentine’s Day. I am very excited to see her reaction. My only concern is that she’ll hug the lamp too much! You should have seen how crumpled the tree got!

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 at 6:37 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Who is getting your Valentine love?

February
6

I recently realized I have bought all of my daughter’s Valentine gifts — yes, that’s plural — and even my mom’s, but haven’t gotten one thing for my husband yet! It got me thinking: Is Valentine’s Day even about romance anymore? I looked into it a bit and found a survey that predicts the average consumer will spend $122.98 this year on Valentine’s Day. While $79.99 is likely to go to a love interest, $23.89 will be spent on other family members, $5.75 on friends, $3.02 on coworkers and even $2.65 on pets. When I read this, I realized I wasn’t alone, and I decided to write a story.

If you are buying Valentine’s goodies for the kids and others in your life, give me a call at 914-666-6189, or drop me an e-mail at jalterio@lohud.com. I’d love to hear from you.

(Oh, and I’m also exploring how Valentine’s Day has gotten to be the second biggest holiday for spending next to the Christmas/Hanukah season. Yup, second, to the tune of $17 billion this year. Even Halloween is just $5 billion. So, if you are one of those ones who goes all out for Cupid, give me a call, too.)

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, February 6th, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
| | 3 Comments »

Snow days

January
14

I think it’s time to blog on this: Too many snow days.

As I hear it, everyone seems to agree that school districts order snow days — or delayed openings, as was the case today in my son’s district — much more frequently than when we were kids. It’s certainly my experience. Or is it simply my perception?

My neighbor, who is from the Czech Republic, laughed off today’s delay, noting that when he was a kid back home there would be a foot of snow on the ground and all the kids would pray that school would close. He says it happened once that he can remember.

In my own youth, I certainly remember walking to school amid snow banks with snow falling. In recent years, including the harsh winter of 2004, it became an issue, with district worrying about making up school time because of all the snow days. I stumbled upon “this story from cnn.com”:http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/02/09/snow.days.ap/index.html about one superintendent’s dilemma with it, and the fallout he endured.

But I couldn’t find a viable database that tracks the number of snow days per year. I thought this would end the debate once and for all, and determine whether schools are wimpier these days or whether it’s just our perception. One newspaper in Michigan took to the web last month and conducted “a reader poll”:http://blog.mlive.com/taking_notes/2007/12/school_snow_day_poll_too_many.html on the subject. Not exactly scientific, but it does make for some interesting results.

Of course, I’m not bringing this up with my son. Nothing a kid loves more than a snow day. It’s a hassle for us grown-ups, dealing with work and what to do with the kids and, particularly as a single parent, negotiating with the ex to reach a compromise on who takes time off, who doesn’t, whose turn it is to do so, etc. The big winner is always my son, who gets a day off. I just hope he remembers how good he had it as a kid.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, January 14th, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
| | 6 Comments »

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Holiday poll results

January
4

In early December, we put up a holiday poll asking the Parents’ Place community about our favorite holiday traditions. Here are the answers:

Decorating the Christmas tree, 6 votes, 43%
Making cookies, 4 votes, 29%
Watching “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” 2 votes, 14%
Wrapping gifts, 1 vote, 7%
Celebrating Kwanzaa with friends, 1 vote, 7%

Check back soon for our next poll — and if you have a suggested question, let us know!

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Friday, January 4th, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
| | Comments Off on Holiday poll results

Thankfulness

January
3

So, I was reading the news online one evening last week and saw Apple stock reached $200 a share. I shared this tidbit with my husband, who said, “You should have let me buy those 100 shares when it was $12.� He was referring to the time in the late 1990s when Apple was in the doldrums. This was before the iPod and before the Apple Store became the coolest retailer at the mall. It was also during days of eTrade and the online do-it-yourself stock-buying frenzy that went out of style after the dot-com bust. It was around that time that he did say he wanted to invest $1,200 in Apple stock. I didn’t think it was a good idea, and I persuaded him not to do it. Well, he did a quick calculation in his head and figured his $1,200 investment would be worth $20,000 now if I hadn’t said no. Then, remembering that Apple had split, noted that it would actually be worth $40,000. I felt sick inside hearing these numbers. That $40,000 could be part of a down payment on a bigger home with a backyard for Pumpkin. It could help pay for Pumpkin’s college education in 16 years — even Harvard, thanks to interest compounding. It could even mean I could have chosen to stay home for a couple of years while Pumpkin is still little. It would have been wonderful. But when I turned back to my computer screen, I saw another headline. This one was about a 7-year-old girl who received a cute purple and pink bicycle for Christmas. She went outside to ride it for the first time and was struck and killed by a driver who didn’t see her. It was the most amazing juxtaposition for me. On one hand, we missed a windfall. But on the other hand, our little girl was upstairs sleeping and safe. My momentary twinge over the lost money was gone. I just felt so full of gratitude that the only thing that really matters is ours.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 at 1:24 am |
| | 2 Comments »

Resolutions… for the kids

January
2

I’m sure we all have our own list of New Year’s resolutions, some of which we may actually follow through on. I have friends who are vowing to diet, quit smoking and travel more in the coming year. We’ll see.

But how about the kids? As parents, we spend a great deal of time establishing and maintaining a set of rules for our children. New Year’s presents a golden opportunity to incorporate this into the annual ritual of resolutions, giving the kids a level of responsibility while allowing them to participate in what is widely perceived as an adult exercise.

With that in mind, I came across a good list of suggested resolutions put together by the “American Academy of Pediatrics,”:http://www.aap.org which provides a good overall website to keep bookmarked. The AAP “list of resolutions”:http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/jankidstips.htm is simple and concise, so there’s no heavy lifting. Personally, I plan to use them as a guide of sorts when I sit down with my son to work out a list for him.

That aside, Happy New Year to all.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

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Resolutions

January
1

Less ice cream. More exercise. Less stress. More sleep. Less procrastination. More patience. Yup, it’s that time again for New Year’s resolutions and reflections. It’s interesting to me that when I think about the ways I could change to become a better mom, most of them relate to just being a better me. If I am healthier, calmer, less harried and more rested, I know I’ll have more energy, patience and playfulness to make Pumpkin happier. Too often, we working parents put ourselves last on our to-do lists. How many times have I promised myself I’d go to bed earlier so I’d have time to exercise in the morning only to stay up late going online to research something for a story I’m writing? How many times have I put off making a healthy salad only to eat something quick and easy (but fattening) later? How many times have I delayed “me� time only to end up aggravated and impatient while I pay the bills or fetch the groceries or do the laundry? Everyone talks about “balancing� work and home life, and I think it’s not a bad analogy. If you picture a giant see-saw and work and home obligations sit heavily on one side, it’s easy to see why time to do what we need to for our own sanity and health slide off the scales altogether. The fact is, there really isn’t enough time for everything we need to do. But, for me, at least, I know that in the new year I plan to make time for some important obligations to myself that I’ve put off. And I believe Pumpkin will be happier, too, as a result.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, January 1st, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
| | Comments Off on Resolutions

The Santa claus

December
31

I know some of you, and maybe even the majority, will think I’m nuts. But here goes anyway: I feel a little bit guilty about teaching Pumpkin about Santa Claus. The thing is, Santa is a myth. But we don’t really represent him as a myth, do we? No, we do the whole story as if he is a real person. I found myself doing it this year. The night before Christmas, we picked out home-baked cookies and put them on a plate with a carrot (for Rudolph), poured a big glass of milk and explained all about the chimney, the flying reindeer, etc. Now, Pumpkin is just 2 and doesn’t have the greatest comprehension yet, but she understood this all pretty well. Well enough, in fact, that when it came time to pick out cookies for Santa, she choose to give him the ones that weren’t her favorites. She believed she was picking them out for a real person that wasn’t her — and wasn’t mama or dada. In the morning, she had a look of pretty gullible amazement on her face when we pointed out the empty milk glass, the missing and munched on cookies and the partially chomped carrot. (On the plus side, she is mixing up Santa with Elmo, who is one of the most important individuals in her life. When I asked her who her presents were from, she said, “Elmo.�)

Here is why I am uncomfortable: I am lying to her when I tell her about Santa. And my policy is honesty all the time. I don’t say we are out of cookies when I don’t want her to have any more — and I don’t let other caregivers do it, either. I just say, “No more.� I don’t make up stories about why we are or are not doing something, I show her respect and tell her the truth — in a way that’s appropriate for a toddler, of course. I just don’t believe in lying. I want to demonstrate in my words and actions that I respect her as an intelligent human being. I hope that will lead to a mutual feeling of trust that will last our whole lives together. I can’t help but wonder if the Santa myth presented as fact is a betrayal of that trust. After all, I am one of her most important sources of information about how the world works. Isn’t it wrong to abuse that power by pretending that Santa is real?

The other day, this issue of honesty came up in relation to a comment my mom made. Pumpkin had received a magnetic doodle pad for Christmas and was playing with it. My mom said something like, “How does this work? It’s magic.� I immediately protested from the next room where I was on the computer. I told my mom that I don’t want Pumpkin to think that everyday objects in her life are controlled by magic. I said to my mom, “We wouldn’t tell her the refrigerator keeps the food cold by magic, why is this any different?�

And in the same way, I feel ambivalent about perpetuating the Santa myth. What do the rest of you moms and dads think? If you have young children, do you feel at all guilty when you talk about Santa? Has anyone decided not to do the Santa deal? And if you have older kids: How did they react when they learned he isn’t real?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Monday, December 31st, 2007 at 5:21 pm |
| | 3 Comments »

Christmas debriefing

December
27

The holidays were a success at my place, with tons of food, lots of smiles and two spoiled kids. In fact, the boys each got more presents than I probably got my entire childhood. As I’m sure is the case with most single parent homes, my son had a stack of presents at our place, and another stack waiting at his mom’s house, where he went at the end of the day on Christmas Day so he could open some presents with is stepbrother.

The value to all this, of course, is that both our boys were able to have a happy and fulfilling Christmas despite having non-traditional homes. Our Christmas morning brunch included both my ex and my girlfriend’s ex, with the added treat for her boy that his grandparents were in from out of town and shared the day with us.

And despite all our efforts and all the feelers we put out there, my son continues to tease us and keep us guessing about his understanding — or lack of — the Santa myth. He proclaimed, tongue in cheek, that Christmas is “60 percent excellent presents from Santa, 39 percent lousy gifts from your parents, and 1 percent egg nog.”

So I think he might be playing us, the little wise guy. Who cares in the end.

Anyway, I hope all had a great time over the holidays, regardless of what it is you celebrate. And I hope most of all that the children enjoyed their inclusion in it. I would love to hear some recaps.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Thursday, December 27th, 2007 at 10:55 am |
| | 2 Comments »

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Make your own snow globe and more

December
12

Tis the season for the least crafty among us to fire up the glue gun and get out the pinking shears. Here’s a <a href=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22202770/” target=”_blank”>link to some ideas from Martha Stewart</a>. My favorite is the make-your-own snow globe. We have saved a couple of big boxes worth of Pumpkin’s baby food jars, and they would be ideal for the project. The jars were so cute and well shaped, it seemed a shame to throw them out. I figured they would come in handy one day. It seems that day has come. If I actually get around to making a snow globe, I’ll post a picture here. Please everyone, share your own tips for fun holiday crafts — and if you send me photos at jalterio@lohud.com, I’ll post them!

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007 at 2:15 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

How ‘Green’ is your holiday?

December
11

As a reporter, I get to meet a lot of interesting people. Often their perspectives can get me thinking about my own views and habits. That happened this month when I talked to local folks about the ways they are making sure their holiday celebrations aren’t an environmental burden on the Earth.

I talked to people who are buying outdoor lights powered by the Sun, people who are making their own wrapping paper, even people who are giving away renewable energy credits as gifts. Here is a <a href=”http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071209/BUSINESS01/712090341/1066″ target=”_blank”>link to the main story</a> on making your holiday “Green.” Here is a <a href=”http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071209/BUSINESS01/712090338/1066″ target=”_blank”>link to a sidebar full of tips</a>. (My favorite: Save this year’s holiday cards to make tags for next year’s presents.) And <a href=”http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071209/BUSINESS01/712090340/1066″ target=”_blank”>here is a link</a> to a story on the lead risks of plastic holiday decor, such as lights, and the popularity of real Christmas trees among the environmentally savvy.

Doing this package made me think a little guiltily about my own environmental footprint during the holidays. I get a lot of catalogs. A LOT. I tend to burn my Christmas tree lights all day long when I’m home. Worst of all: I am a glutton when it comes to giving presents and wrapping them in fancy paper. This photo from last year’s Christmas kind of tells the whole story of my environmentally un-friendly habits:

1211-presents.jpg
And yet, if you asked me about other ways I try and do my part, I’d point to my (mostly) diligent recycling, my effort to turn off lights when I’m not in the room, my habit of combining errands in one trip, etc. I think the holidays can make us all go nuts in the consumption department. Last year was Pumpkin’s second Christmas — and the first she really was able to participate in by unwrapping her own gifts, eating cookies, etc. So, I went crazy. So crazy, in fact, that we were still unwrapping after dinner. That’s how long it took to get through the presents!

I was inspired this year to change some of my ways by the stories I heard from local parents. We bought some Philips outdoor lights with light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. They use just a tiny fraction of the electricity of incandescent bulbs. I bought some environmentally friendly gifts. I shopped locally when I could. Next year, with more time to plan, we’ll do more. I love the Pratt family’s wrapping solution. Randy Pratt, who runs the Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm in Yorktown Heights, told me the family shops after the holiday for discount Christmas fabric and makes their own long-lasting gift bags. What a great idea!

1211-paper.jpgI was also inspired by Laura Barkat of Ossining. Here, at right, is some really cute homemade holiday paper created last year by her girls, who are now 10 and 8. Laura gives the girls just three gifts between the two of them, one shared and one each. Last year, the eldest mended her younger sister’s favorite pajamas as a holiday gift. “She saw that her sister was about to lose her favorite pajamas. They were unwearable. She put patches on the knees and mended them and there they were Christmas morning,” Laura told me. When I asked Laura to sum up her feelings on the topic, she sent me an e-mail. Here is what she wrote:

“First, I wanted to say that being green is sometimes framed as a list of do’s and don’ts. But in our family it’s more about restoring our lives and the life of our community and world. By ‘restoring,’ I mean ‘refilling’ or ‘restocking.’ So, being green is about what we add to our lives that makes them more precious and less full of negative impact. On this note, being green is also about ‘re-storying’ our lives. Picking a different life narrative than the Climb to Success, finding a different identity or character than Consumer. We choose, instead, to weave a narrative of Love, to discover and encourage our ingenuity and intense potential for human creativity. On a practical level, this means we focus on meaningful ritual, tradition, sharing, and memory-making, rather than on ‘stuff’ (the consuming of stuff, the provision of stuff by others, and the pursuit of stuff as a ‘right’ to the exclusion of the health of family, community and environment). This is a year-round goal, to change our focus from buying stuff to ritual, but at Christmas it takes a particular shape.”

Like Laura, I feel it’s important for my holiday habits to reflect our own values. And I’ll admit my habits need a bit of a makeover. But I plan to do it because I want Pumpkin to share in the awe and wonder of the holiday’s true message rather than the message I might inadvertently send by spoiling her with too many presents and not eliminating my own wasteful ways. What do the rest of you parents think? Are you feeling the urge to go “Green” this holiday? What lessons do you try and teach your kids about the environment through your habits — in December and all year long?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 at 12:01 am |
| | 1 Comment »

Co-parenting with the ex

November
27

I’ve been fortunate in that I was able to establish a friendly relationship with my son’s mom. She’s remarried, and I’ve moved on as well. None of it has prevented us from co-parenting, and my son benefits as a result. I’m always particularly aware of it this time of year, since it allows my son to enjoy the Holiday season without tension between his parents.

I wish that were true for all divorced parents. But, in fact, most of the conversations I have with separated or divorced parents are about the tense relationship with their ex. Of late, I’ve had conversations with two moms at my son’s after school program, and they were both dreading the Holidays because they anticipate some disagreement or other over presents, where to spend the Holidays, etc.

Sometimes in those situations one parent is the cause of the difficulty. But most often, both parents contribute, and the children suffer as a result. The irony is that neither parent ever wants the children to suffer. Sometimes it just ends up that way.

There is no shortage of suggestions on coping with the ex. I found a particularly good list on “the single parent link”:http://singleparent.lifetips.com/cat/9246/ex-spouse/index.html on the “lifetips.com”:http://www.lifetips.com website. The suggestions are a good starting point to fashioning a tolerable relationship with the ex. In the early stages of my split, I found it was necessary for me to bite my tongue and swallow my pride quite often. I’m sure my ex felt the same way.

Ultimately, we were able to form enough of a friendship that those issues could be addressed when my son wasn’t around or on the phone. But in most cases, the issues didn’t seem significant any longer, so we moved on and focused on our roles as parents and even friends. And at no time of year am I more thankful for it than the Holidays.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 at 12:19 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

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Thanks for the cranberries and the memories

November
22

It’s 2:18 a.m. and I just made the cranberry sauce. Oh, and I threw in a load of wash. My wash, that is. I had no choice if I hope to have something fresh to wear in seven hours when it will be time to get dressed to drive to my sister-in-law’s house in Albany. Pumpkin’s dress has been ready on a hanger in her closet for weeks. Such is my life.

Some moms — and you know who you are — seem to effortlessly keep it all together. You look great. Your hair isn’t always in a ponytail. You’ve actually managed to dig out your winter clothes so you don’t have to wear a summer shirt in November. Best of all, you’re calm. You never say things like, “Sweetheart, if you go upstairs and read books quietly with Grandma while mommy tries to write a story, I’ll give you pudding later.” Then there are moms like me. Perennially running late. Trying to do too much and getting only five out of 10 things accomplished. So, tomorrow while Pumpkin will be wearing a cute blue velvet holiday dress, I’ll be schlepping in some jeans. Jeans that aren’t loose like I’d hoped because I haven’t strictly followed the South Beach Diet or gotten back on the treadmill. I won’t be wearing any makeup because in a cleaning fit I threw away all the old stuff I bought back in spring 2005 and I haven’t replaced it. (Or used the gift certificate for Sephora my mom gave me in April 2006.)

Running my house and my family is a full-time job. The only problem is I have another full time job: This one. And when something’s got to give, it’s usually taking care of me. But yet, but yet, even though it’s now 2:25 a.m. and I probably won’t sleep more than four hours. And even though I’ll be the sloppiest mom at my family’s Thanksgiving party. And even though I know I’m far from perfect, I can’t help but sit here and feel so grateful for this messed up, harried life. My child is sleeping in her crib snuggled up with her Elmo doll. My husband will be waking at 5:30 to clean the car and make a dent on the toy litter that’s stretching from my office through the living and dining rooms all the way to the kitchen. My mom will probably come a half hour early this morning and I can get her to file Pumpkin’s fingernails. Most of all, I’m simply thankful to be a mom to Pumpkin, who has been in this world for three years this month. Granted, she was smaller than a grain of rice three years ago, but still — she was alive and my world was changed forever, even if I didn’t know it yet.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I want to say thank you to whoever is reading this blog. Thank you for joining our little community of parents who just want to share the miracle that is our everyday lives. My theory is that parents like to complain about our long days (and occasional nights) and the hard parts because if we talked about what it’s really like, we’d sound like lunatics. “I am so happy to be changing this dirty diaper” don’t sound like the words of a normal person to somebody who hasn’t been a mom or dad. But I remember on the day we brought Pumpkin home from the hospital after she spent nine weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when she was born three months early. I said into the camcorder: “You need a diaper change. I am so happy to be changing your diaper.” It was me and not a nurse who got to wipe that little bum. I was finally going to be Pumpkin’s full-time mom. And so when she comes to me and says, “Mama, poop,” I’m still that happy. I get to be a mom. If sometimes my other full-time job means that I have to make cranberry sauce at 2 in the morning, so be it.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ll share my secret recipe for cranberry sauce. As for life, I can only say: Be grateful for the diapers because where there’s poop, there’s a child.

Julie’s Cranberry Sauce

1 12 ounce container frozen apple juice concentrate
1 package fresh cranberries
1/2 cup port wine
1/2 cup sugar (If you like it really sweet, make it 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix apple juice, cranberries, wine and sugar in a stainless steel pot. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 to 13 minutes, until syrup starts to look gel-ish. Remove from heat. Add spices. Pour into a heat-safe dish. Cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. (I’ll also add, pour yourself a glass of port and eat a small dish of the runny sauce while it’s hot. Yum.)

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Thursday, November 22nd, 2007 at 4:01 am |
| | 2 Comments »

The Santa question

November
19

My girlfriend’s 3-year-old burst into tears this morning as I was about to take him to pre-K. When I asked him why he was crying, he said because he wanted Santa Claus to bring him presents. He knows Santa will show up while we’re all sleeping and deliver a bundle of toys for him to pay with. It’s just that, at his age, the notion that Christmas is still several weeks away is hazy, and he thought it would happen this morning and the next. I assured him Santa would come. But it reminded me of how beautiful that is for a child, and it struck me how he and my own son, who turns 10 on Saturday, are at such varying ends of the Santa myth.

I think it’s pretty obvious the cat is out of the hat for my son by now. He seems to be at the point where he knows the scoop on Santa, but figures he’d better not ‘fess up or there’ll be no presents. It’s sad to me, because nothing can ever replace the look on a child’s face on Christmas morning when the presents are “magically” there under the tree.

So I need to have the Santa Claus conversation with my son this weekend. First of all, I want to make sure he doesn’t ruin it for the younger boy. But I also want to bring my son up to speed on the whole Santa myth and its origins. Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas of Myra, a benevolent 4th Century man of the cloth who shared his inheritance with the needy through anonymous gifts. Legend has it that after he died locals would put out food for the saint and straw for his donkey, which St. Nick would turn into toys and treats. That’s kinda cool in its own right, and a pretty good tradition.

Corny as it sounds, I like to think that there is still some magic involved, and there’s an inherent beauty in Christmas that, to me, overshadows the ridiculous marketing blitz that has become part of the holiday season. I remain fond of the legendary 1897 column by New York Sun writer Francis Pharcellus Church, famously titled, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,”:http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia and expect that the discussion with my son will start with a reading of it. We will talk about the “Dear Santa” letter we’ll be picking up from the post office, and discuss some charity work to aid the less fortunate.

So, the Santa myth will continue for my son, even if the secret is out. Then we can all sit back and marvel at the look of wonderment on the 3-year-old’s face, and the magic he believes in — for now. Let’s hope it lasts.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, November 19th, 2007 at 1:08 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

Are you giving gift cards this holiday?

November
15

More than half of consumers will be giving at least one gift card this holiday. They are particularly popular options among aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., who might not know the personal preferences of the recipient. I’m planning a story on the pitfalls and pluses of gift cards. <a href=”http://www.consumerreports.org” target=”_blank”>Consumer Reports</a>, the Yonkers-based consumer watchdog, has a lot to say on the topic to educate shoppers about the cards’ pros and cons, and I’m talking with them for the story. I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with the cards. If you’ve received gift cards, have you used them or did you leave them in your wallet? Has a store ever given you a hard time about redeeming one? What are your nieces, nephews and grandchildren telling you about their feelings on gift cards? Give me a call at 914-666-6189 or e-mail me at jalterio@lohud.com if you’d like to be part of the story.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 3:49 am |
| | 1 Comment »

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About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE



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