Shiny happy things


Making a chocolate mouse

Last night J and I watched the 1960s episode of a History Channel program called “Christmas Through the Decades.” Both J and I were born at the end of the 1960s, so many of the advertisements, toys, and other pop culture artifacts mentioned on the show figured prominently in our 1970s childhoods. (Throughout my childhood and into my teens, for instance, I grew up with an aluminum Christmas tree my parents had bought when such trees were all the rage.)

Food porn for chocoholics

One of the quintessential Christmas touchstones mentioned on the show was the Sears “Wish Book” catalog that children of our generation used to pore over like Scripture in the months leading up to Christmas. Both J and I have vivid memories of paging through paper catalogs, making a mental list of the items we wanted. For J, Radio Shack catalogs were his preferred wish book, and for me, the Service Merchandise catalog pictured all the toys I could ever hope for. Although I knew better than to confront Santa with a long wishlist–Santa, like my parents, was frugal and tended to bring whatever toys were on clearance–simply looking at a well-illustrated catalog was almost as good as actually receiving the toys you wished for, the toys in your imagination never growing old or wearing out.

White chocolate snowman

Nowadays, I toss Christmas catalogs directly in the recycling bin, finding it much easier to browse and shop online. But in today’s mail, J received a catalog and calendar from L.A. Burdick Chocolate, and I swiftly claimed both. Just as a small child can spend hours poring over pictures of toys in a catalog, I as an adult can easily fill an afternoon looking at calendar-quality food porn.

Be the best version of yourself

This week the Framingham State community is celebrating a Week of Kindness, which means there are random compliments and words of encouragement posted all over campus.

Keep the kindness coming

We’re at a particularly busy point of the semester: both students and faculty alike are swamped with work, and it seems like everyone is sleep-deprived, sick, or both. We’re at the exact moment in the semester, in other words, when everyone could use a word of encouragement, even if that word is written on an anonymous Post-It note.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I love about watching the Boston Marathon every year is the way spectators cheer and wave signs to encourage random strangers:

Bathroom selfie with Week of Kindness post-it.

Can you imagine a world where we cheered each other on like this everyday, not just on Marathon Monday? Can you imagine a world where strangers shared simple kindness with one another, simply to keep them motivated and moving?

This week’s Week of Kindness at Framingham State feels a bit like the love-fest that is the Boston Marathon, but with smaller signs.

Be the best you can be

A heaping pile of candy

As if a galaxy of toys weren’t alluring enough, the window display at Green Planet Kids in Newton Highlands now features a heaping pile of Halloween candy, which begs the obvious question. If you were a child, which would you prefer: a heaven filled with candy or one piled high with toys?

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival

This past weekend, J and I went to the Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival, a celebration of Japanese culture that doubled as an excuse to be outside on a beautiful spring day. There were women in colorful kimonos…

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival

…young people in origami Samurai hats…

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival

…performances by taiko drummers…

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival

…and a shishimai lion dance.

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival

The costume for this dance was simple, consisting of a cape-like cloth and wooden lion head, but the charm lay in the creature’s mischievous behavior. Acting more like a dog than a lion, the puppet-like creature chewed his own toes and curled up for a nap before romping into the audience to spread good luck by nibbling the heads of delighted onlookers.

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival

After a long, brutal winter, simply being able to sit outside in the sun felt like good luck, with or without mischievous lion nibbles.

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival

Little Liam wins "Fan of the Game"

Earlier this month, a video made the rounds of an adorable moppet in Bruins gear fist-bumping the entire team as they left the ice after their pre-game warmups. (If you haven’t already seen the video, do your mood a favor and watch it…or, if like me, you’ve watched it countless times, take a minute to watch it again. It’s impossible not to smile when you see the obvious joy on the kid’s face as each player acknowledges him.)

Liam fist-bumps the team

The adorable moppet in that viral video is eight-year-old Liam Fitzgerald, and he was in attendance at yesterday’s Black Friday matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Winnipeg Jets. Little Liam, who was born with Down’s syndrome, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age four, and now endures daily injections of growth hormones, has become an unofficial Bruins mascot. Hockey players pride themselves for their mental and physical toughness, and you have to admire the toughness of eight-year-old who has beat cancer, continues to face medical challenges, and still finds unbridled joy in something as simple as meeting his favorite hockey players.

During the third period of every home Bruins game, fans vote for the “Fan of the Game.” While three candidates are shown on the scoreboard screen, fans cheer and applaud for their favorite. At yesterday’s game, the matchup between the Bruins and the Jets was a nail-biter that went into overtime. But when it came to voting for the “Fan of the Game,” there was no contest, fans going absolutely wild when little Liam was shown on the big screen, his dad holding him on his shoulder like a modern-day Tiny Tim.

This is my Day Twenty-Nine contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Symphony Hall dressed up for the holidays

On Sunday, J and I went to Symphony Hall for a Holiday Pops concert. Whereas the mood for a typical Boston Symphony Orchestra concert is staid and serious, Sunday’s Pops concert was fun and festive, with a holiday sing-a-long, a “surprise” appearance from Santa Claus, and performances of fan favorites like “Sleigh Ride” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.” (If you’ve never heard the Boston Pops’ clever interpretation of the latter, this obviously amateur video will take you up to Day Seven and its strains of Swan Lake.)

Freezing rain on crabapples

It was fun, too, to see Symphony Hall decked out for the holidays with evergreen garlands, flaming lanterns, and colored lights. This past week has been largely gray, with sleeting rain and slush instead of snow, so we’ve had to take our color where we can get it, whether indoors or out. On gray and dim days, even the smallest pop of color is appreciated: more precious than even a partridge in a pear tree.

Sea turtle and barn owl

Apparently I’m not the only one fascinated by sea turtles. On our way to the New England Aquarium on Sunday, J and I stopped to admire the carousel on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which surprisingly was still in operation with a handful of hardy souls braving a merry-go-round ride on a bitterly cold and windy day.

Lobster

Instead of horses, the Greenway Carousel features native New England creatures like the sea turtle and barn owl pictured above or the lobster pictured at right. I took more than a dozen photos of these creatures the first time I visited the Greenway carousel this past summer, and I shot a couple videos as well, which you can view here and here.

Carousel horse

When I was a child, I loved merry-go-rounds because they were the closest a horse-crazy city girl could get to actually riding a horse. (The carousel horse at right has been retired from active duty and how lives at Kelly’s Roast Beef in Natick.) Now that I know that carousels can feature far more than horses, though, I’m at a loss to decide which of the Greenway carousel’s critters is my favorite. Whenever I try to pick just one favorite animal, I end up going round and round.

This is my Day 27 contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

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