With all the houses and neighborhoods listed in our holiday-light roundup, it was guaranteed we’d miss a few. For instance, the area bordered by Fruit and West and Sierra and Bullard avenues in central Fresno.
The holiday lights here are quaint when compared to the twinkling-wonderland that is Christmas Tree Lane or the massive light-explosion of Clovis’ Cindy Lane. But for more than 30 years, the homes, sidewalks and medians of the neighborhood have been softly lit with luminarias on Christmas eve.
Because somebody has to do it (and because I’ve been listening to A LOT of Christmas music for the past three days), here’s my list of the best Christmas songs. Ever.
Of course, this kind of list is up for debate, so feel free to share your thoughts.
1.) “All I Want for Christmas is You,” Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey cracked the code with this one. The you’re-the-only-gift-I-need imagery, the soaring vocals and peppy piano line, the jingle bells — this song seems to have Christmas built into its very DNA. I’ve heard other versions (Lady Antebellum for one), but Carey’s is tops. The English website Mirror says it’s the nation’s favorite (or favourite) Christmas song.
‘Tis the season. To go out in the freezing cold and see a city’s worth of Christmas light displays (OK, you can probably stay in your heated car for most of it). In past year’s, The Beehive has put together some handy-dandy lists so you can easily find the best spots in town. When Mike Oz left, he took some of that with him as institutional knowledge (although we still havehisposts). But you Beehivers must have your own thoughts about which are the best? So, let’s hear it. We know the old standbys. Do they continue to shine (pun intended). Have you seen anyplace new this year? What’s the trend this season? Anything noticeable?
I can’t be the only one with a fragile hold on her sanity now that the holidays are in full swing. (I blame covering last week’s Black Friday frenzy, not sure what Traci’s issue is.) I have an antidote. Toys for Tots needs toy donations. Desperately. There is nothing better than the feeling of giving a gift to a kid who might not otherwise get one. It makes up for some of the consumerism that has taken over the holidays. It made me feel human again to drop a Game of Life board game in the empty Toys for Tots box last week after watching people rush Victoria’s Secret doors to get half-priced hoodies on Black Friday.
The need is especially great this year. See, the Marines that used to collect toys for the drive in Fresno are actually based in Lemoore, and they’ve been told to focus on the Kings County Toys for Tots drive. So a bunch of retired Marines are taking over the toy drive in Fresno, but they don’t have nearly the money or the connections. They need another 50,000 toys and they’ve got less than two weeks to find them. They expect to give out about 85,000 toys and wouldn’t be surprised if the demand was even greater, given the crappy economy and a drop in donations. The deadline is Dec. 16.
You can find a list of donation box locations here. They take cash donations too. This is perfectly acceptable reason to pat yourself on the back and feel good about something. Go for it.
The Black Friday shopping craziness is coming. In fact, it should be called Black Thursday this year because most of the big stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Fashion Fair mall and many department stores will open at 8 p.m. Thursday, for instance. Craft store Michaels will open at 4 p.m. Will you be there?
With Black Friday encroaching on the time usually reserved for turkey and pumpkin pie, the debate over early openings has reached a fever pitch this year. On one side, there’s the multiple generations of families in town for the holidays who have made a tradition of going shopping for great deals and spending quality time waiting in line together. In the other corner are the people vowing not to shop. They believe retail workers should have one holiday to stay home with their families, and abhor the expression of consumerism and greed.
Where do you stand?
Below are opening times for major stores (and for the record, Costco, Sur La Table and RadioShack deliberately are not opening on Thanksgiving Day).
Opening times on Thanksgiving Day:
6 a.m. Kmart (Kmart has opened at 6 a.m. in the past, but this year it won’t close during the middle of the day. It will stay open for 41 hours through Friday.)
I’m busy writing my column about which restaurants are open on Christmas Day and the descriptions of food are driving me crazy: Deep-fried cheesecake at Chukchansi’s Noodle Bar, a slow-baked sugar-cured ham at the Mountain Room in Yosemite and dim sum at Imperial Garden.
You can read more about which restaurants are open in this coming Wednesday’s column, but in the meantime, let’s talk about what people eat for Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) — whether homemade or from a restaurant.
Do you have a favorite traditional holiday food?
For me, it’s my Aunt Janet’s challah bread. (I’m not sure how that became a family tradition as it’s a bread traditionally eaten on Jewish holidays and we’re not Jewish.) It’s a light, fluffy bread delicious eaten with a meal and is great for leftover ham and turkey sandwiches. (That’s not my bread at right, but a file photo of challah bread by Bee photographer Craig Kohlruss.)
So what about you? Do you have a special dish you make every year or something you go out for every year?