Tag: christmas

A Monumental Affair: Washington Monument Holiday Lighting

Image Courtesy of: pintsizepub.com

Little things have happened around Baltimore to signify that the Holidays are here.  The Mayor’s Parade occurred this past Sunday in Medfield and Hampden, the lights are up on 34th, and the nightly light show in the harbor has been in full swing since mid-November.  This Thursday, the Monument in Mount Vernon will be lit up for the holidays and we can all embrace the season – lights, decorations, cheery music and all.

If you find yourself in Mount Vernon around 5:30p on Thursday – stick around.  There will be local choirs and renowned food vendors until the lighting, laser show and fireworks at 7:00p.  First Thursdays at the Monument may just be for the summer months, but this is a first Thursday you can enjoy in a down jacket with some hot cocoa and a Santa hat.

The Washington Monument on Charles Street in Mount Vernon

Thursday, December 6th

To partake in a Baltimore Holiday Tradition that fully kicks off the season.  Fireworks!  Lights!  Carols!  Hot cocoa!


A Christmas Perennial: Rutland Beard at Ruxton Station



Okay, this is the year you’re going to be ready for the holidays. You can easily wait to get the tree, but not to start the planning.  A wreath or two? A big statement with greens?  Magnolia branches and fruit, Southern style?  Garlands, ropes of pine, floral centerpieces…whatever it is, Rutland Beard — a family owned florist who’s been at its Ruxton location since 1921 —  has a long history of getting it done, beautifully.

Floral designer Alison Webb. AIFD, who also answers to “Lee,” listens as well as she decorates. “So much of it is understanding what a client wants,” she says. “If they have an idea, we’re happy to collaborate.” And if it happens, as it sometimes does, that a client has really no idea at all? “Never mind,” she laughs, “we have plenty of ideas.”

Holiday Tips from John Waters


Along with being a total creep (in the best way possible!), an ardent Baltimorean, and an amazing filmmaker, John Waters is also king of Christmas. The John Waters Christmas album is required listening in certain households at this time of year; the truly lucky among us get to see the man with the mustache perform his annual Christmas show live (tour dates here). He also has a lot of opinions. Here are a few of our favorite John Waters holiday tips (from interviews with the Baltimore Sun and Vice):

  • “Gift baskets should contain cigarettes, candy, and drugs, things you would never buy for yourself.”

Miracle on 34th: The Lights on 34th Street



Some things are just quintessentially “Baltimore;” Natty boh, the Utz girl, Old Bay, the Kinetic Sculpture Race, The Wire, to name a few.  The lights on the 700 block of 34th Street around the holidays, unquestionably, fall into that category.  

Santa Claus is Coming to Town: Your Guide to Stalking Santa This Season


It may seem premature, since the turkey isn’t even in the oven yet, but since the holidays are starting their madness sooner each year, it’s time to begin tracking where Mr. Claus will be this December.  He could probably save a hefty bundle on travel costs going to and from the North Pole if he just Skyped all these kids individually throughout the year, but Santa’s stubborn and old fashioned.  If he’d just get on board, we could do all our Christmas errands online, but alas,  he’s coming in full force with the entire battalion of elves to a convenient shopping center near you!

Q & A with Santa Claus


Santa takes questions from our friends at The Hairpin and his thoughtful answers are a surprise.  Discover his favorite cookie, his favorite song and the unexpected thing he does December 26 to get ready for the year ahead.

Dear Santa Claus, I was really good in 1981 and I asked for an Atari for Christmas from you and I didn’t get one. What gives? Darnell W.

You were really good that year, Darnell. You were consistently on the Nice List throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. I really appreciated you being a great kid, and now you have a couple of great kids of your own. I’m sorry you feel so haunted by this lack of an Atari. No question, Atari would have been a great gift for you in 1981. I did get you a skateboard. As you skated around your neighborhood that spring you met your best friend for life, Victor. You ran over the girl you’d eventually bring to your senior prom, Dominique. If you’d spent all that time indoors playing Atari, maybe your life wouldn’t have taken these turns. Sometimes I’m not able to give children the gift they want, but I can give them a gift they’ll use and enjoy that is maybe the perfect gift for them at that moment. Part of believing in the spirit of the Holidays is trusting in that spirit.

Dear Santa, I am Jewish. Why don’t you also deliver gifts to Jewish kids? Melissa S.

Melissa, I would really love to bring gifts to Jewish children all over the world, and I am hoping at some point down the road we can add them to our delivery routes. Judaism is a terrific religion and Jewish children are some of the highest-rated kids on the Nice List. We made a handshake agreement long ago to allow Hanukkah to be a special holiday on its own, and there is much debate whether the eight days of gift-giving is as much fun as one big holiday of giving. But, don’t forget, Jews get a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in which they pretty much have the run of the town. All those days going out to movies and to eat with your families when everyone else is unwrapping in their homes, those memories can be very special, too. Sometimes the experience of Christmas can be overwhelming and disappointing and can leave Christmas-celebrators feeling pretty wiped-out. Hannukah has a wonderful history that doesn’t get overwhelmed by me. Enjoy it. But, if we decide to make a change down the road, it will be in all the papers and blogs.

Mr. Claus, Do you have a favorite Holiday Song? Mildred G.

I’m pretty flattered by all the songs about me that make me seem so magical. Bob Dylan’s “It Must Be Santa” was a big thrill for me, because I am such a fan of his. I like The Killers’ “Don’t Shoot Me Santa Claus” as well. It is very catchy and very sweet, beneath some of the humor. The one I am not a fan of is “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” I find that song extremely upsetting for making fun of what was ultimately a really unfortunate accident. Grandma was OK and we made lots of adjustments to the sleigh, it’s a very touchy subject for me. But my all time favorite is Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.” In my opinion, it is right up there with Handel’s “Messiah.”

Dear Santa Claus, are you Really Real? Jesus A.

I think the question of whether I exist or not is something that makes the holidays incredibly special. And I don’t want to weigh in too much for one side or the other. There are smart and thoughtful people that believe in me and enjoy the Spirit of the Holidays and there are some who don’t believe and have their own holiday traditions. I try to give those people as much space as possible. I’m sorry if this is not a satisfactory answer for you. But I think you know that life never gives us too many straight answers. And sometimes wondering about something is more valuable and fun than knowing the secrets to everything. You’ve been very good this year!

Santa, will there ever be a female Santa Claus? Stephanie S.

Yes. There was a Ms. Claus from 1943-1950 and also from 1990-1997. And there will be many more. The image of Santa Claus may popularly be a white man, but the truth is much more diverse. I can’t talk too much about it, but there’s a rotation of roles here at the North Pole. Let’s leave it at that.

Dear Saint Nicholas, how is it that you are able to deliver all those toys all over the world on just one night? Alexi E.

I know this seems pretty unlikely to you, Alexi. But we have a lot of help. Some countries do not celebrate Christmas on the same day, so we’re able to space it out over a number of weeks. But even if we did have to deliver gifts to every child in the world on just one night, we could get it done. We’re only as good as our support system, but I must say that there are an impressive amount of people who help us get it done.

Hello, Mr. Claus, what is December 26th like for you? Dylan H.

The whole operation runs on adrenaline for much of the delivery process. The first thing I do when we’re finished is shave. It’s just a habit I get into as we turn the page on a successful year, and we all get a big laugh from it. As the beard grows it’s a reminder to us all to stay focused on our tasks. But each day after Christmas can always be different. We had a large error one year, in which we missed Nebraska entirely and had to redeliver the night after, with little notes for all the children. No system is perfect. One year we all went to see Avatar. There was another year where we had a terrible injury to a reindeer and spent most of the next day bedside, praying. That was maybe the saddest holiday we’d ever seen on the North Pole. But that deer died flying and bringing gifts to kids. It was a huge reminder to us what is most important and how lucky we are to be a small part of it.

Santa, Doesn’t your leg get pretty tired from having people sit in your lap? Addie L. 

It’s nice to get to talk to so many children. But, yes. My knee falls asleep all the time.

Dear Santa, Do you have a favorite kind of cookie? Are there other things you would like other than cookies? Max P.

This is a little embarrassing. Fortune Cookies are my favorite. Especially really cheap ones from tiny Chinese take out places. I know people put a lot of effort into leaving me cookies that they’ve made especially for me. And all that milk! I happily eat and drink all those! But I really secretly love Fortune Cookies the most. Let’s not tell anyone, Max.

Dear Santa, CHIMNEYS ARE FREAKY! Elizabeth B.

Honestly, I still get a little claustrophobic every time I go down a chimney. It’s just something you can’t ever get used to. When you’re in the Zone you can’t think about it. You’re just down and up and on to the next one. It’s a relief to get to apartment buildings where I can get in through a window or get buzzed up. There’s usually a nest of squirrels you’re trying to avoid on the way past or the flue is down and you have to kind of work it loose. And I’ve gotten stuck! Though usually only for 30 seconds or so. It’s like being born! Over and over again! I am always thinking of going back to just using people’s doors, but everyone is so crazy about the chimney entry.

Read the entire q & at The Hairpin 

Frugal Christmas Tip: The $20 Tree


It’s a problem every year:  I want to spend my money on presents and egg nog, but my house never quite feels Christmas-y enough without a tree. And Christmas trees are expensive! I’ve tried a few different things — the dinky Charlie Brown option; the fake tinsel tree; that one time when my dad and I illegally cut down a tree from a state park (don’t tell on me!). But this year I’ve found the optimal solution.

The good news: Clemsonville Christmas Tree Farm is possibly the most adorable place ever. You can wander through 250 acres of trees, trying to find the one that calls out to you and then chop it down yourself — there’s a unexpected primal thrill, even when it’s only a skinny 6-footer. You can enjoy free cookies and punch. You can chat with farmer Michael Ryan, who is gracious and can help you out if your car happens to get stuck in the mud. Hypothetically. Oh, and all trees under 14 feet are $20. No exceptions. I’m looking at our gorgeous 11-footer right now, and I’m pleased as punch.  The cons? Driving to Clemsonville, which is a bit outside of Frederick. Sure, it’s not convenient — but you’ll certainly save enough on the tree to cover gas. Plus, it’s a real holiday experience.

Bonus Frugal Xmas Tip:  The Pennsylvania Dutch Market in Cockeysville sells ridiculously cheap cinnamon sticks.  Like, a bag of 30 for under $3.

Santa Poses with Pets, Harbor East Jingle Jam, Creative Alliance Merry Mart, Cylburn Celebration


Joy, Jingle Jam at Harbor East: There’s nothing like city sidewalks dressed in holiday style — especially when you can enjoy live entertainment, food and other surprises as you walk them. The streets of Harbor East will come alive during “Joy Jingle Jam,” an afternoon celebration of the winter season. Find holiday gifts, goodies and good times. Performances include the VIPs from noon to 2 p.m. and The Kelly Bell Band from 3 to 5 p.m. Free photographs with Santa too from noon to 5. Harbor East restaurant stands will be open outdoors. When: Saturday, December 3, 2011, 12 noon to 5 p.m. Where: Harbor East, 800 block of Aliceanna Street, Baltimore. Shoppers and diners receive three hours of free parking at one of three Harbor East self-parking garages with $100 of same-day receipts and a voucher from a Harbor East merchant. Admission: Free.

For more information, visit the Harbor East website.


Creative Alliance Merry Mart: A unique craft show featuring a diverse mix of arts and crafts from Baltimore and beyond for sale just in time for the holidays! When: Sunday, December 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Where: The Creative Alliance at the Patterson – 3134 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore. Admission: Free.


Go here for more Merry Mart information.


Cylburn Arboretum’s Holiday Tea at the Mansion: Experience the mansion’s elegant first floor, main hallway, grand staircase and stone porches all decked in wreaths, swags and greenery from the mansion’s grounds and decorated by the District IV Federated Garden Clubs. The traditional tea, provided by local favorite Carey Talucci Catering, will feature tea-time treats such as delicate sandwiches, quiche, petite scones, skewered fruit, tea breads, an assortment of bite-sized desserts, and, of course, seasonal teas. Grab distinctive garden and nature-themed gifts for children and adults in the holiday boutique and get in on a raffle for a topiary pig (decked in holiday finery!), a handmade wreath fashioned from Cylburn greens, a Pandora bracelet (with three beautiful beads) courtesy of Smyth Jewelers, handmade jewelry, theater tickets, and a crystal vase. Adding to the holiday spirit will be a seasonal serenade by The Gilman School’s Traveling Men, a 12-member a cappella group. When: Sunday, December 4, from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. Where: Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Avenue. Admission: $40 for CAA members, $45 for non-members, and $300 for table of eight. A limited number of tickets are available and reservations are required. Please call the Cylburn office at 410-367-2217 for more information. 

Baltimore Humane Society Holiday Open House: This Sunday, Annual Pet Photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus are not to be missed (kids can pose, too). The McDonogh Middle School Chorus will perform at 2 p.m., and following an afternoon Open House of tours and treats, visitors can take in a creative lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. “This has been a tough year for our animal community,” says Wendy Goldband, director of public relations, “with more homeless cats and dogs than we’ve ever seen before.” When: Sunday, December 4, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Where: 1601 Nicodemus Road, Reisterstown. Admission: Free with the exception of a small donation for your photos. Help the animals meet a better 2012…and have fun!