December 22, 2012

Land of Winter Wonders

Yesterday was an excellent day! Aside from it marking the arrival of winter and being a thwarted Mayan doomsday, 12/21/12 also saw the return of our office Christmas party at Stony Brook Transit. It has been a few years since we had one and I was so glad to see it come back. Everyone brought in a dish and we had lots of good homemade food. I created one of my classic cheese platters to share; this time, I found Smoked Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Colby Jack, and Muenster at the market; I topped it off with some turkey pepperoni. I took along my acoustic guitar, some jingly bells, and the lyric sheets for Christmas carols. We had a holiday sing-along in the lunch room; it was great to hear everyone singing. We got to do a few of my favorites like "Angels We Have Heard On High," "O Come All Ye Faithful," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Now, I'll be off from work for the next 11 days. I'm looking forward to Christmas Day and then playing with some new toys with the kids. I love this season!

In the evening, I headed out to Conklin Barn in Huntington for the annual poetic winter celebration. Some musicians showed up and things started off with another holiday sing-along. After that, we had a poem exchange with everyone placing a poem in the center of the room and taking out a different one to read. Appropriately, I put in my "Doomsday Hysteria" and the man who picked it did a great job of reading it. He made it very funny. I pulled out a very heartfelt piece about Sandy Hook. It was beautiful and the poets said that I did well in conveying the emotion in the words. That made me happy to hear. After leaving the Barn, I stopped in at another Christmas party that I had been invited to at Nappertandy's. I got to catch up with one of my oldest friends, Matt Flood. He and I have been friends since High School and now he's the manager of the Long Island Philharmonic. We discussed a few musical ideas that I've had for a while and it looks like the projects will get off of the ground in 2013. That exciting!

Another cool thing that I did recently was to go to the Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens to see their Christmas decorations. I had gone to this last year and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go again. Built in 1906, the house was owned by John S. Phipps and his wife Margarita Grace Phipps and reflects English architecture from the 1600s. For the season, all of the rooms in its two levels are decorated in Victorian holiday charm. Stepping into the foyer, I was met by a crackling fire at a grand hearth. As I ambled through the house, I encountered tall Christmas trees, rose wreaths hanging in windows, poinsettia plants by the score, giant gilded walnuts with equally large nutcrackers, and lots of well-dressed mannequins set up in joyful holiday vignettes.

In the house's West Porch, I got to sit down and partake in some cookies and hot apple cider in front of a row of pine trees adorned with white lights and a host of owls. A rumbling toy train completed the scene. A really great day. Love & light...

"Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never go hungry,
and he who believes in me
will never be thirsty.'"

~John 6:35