December 7, 1941 was a “date that will live in infamy,” as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the United States entered the war — World War II — 77 years ago. I wasn’t there, but it doesn’t really seem like it was very long ago. Does it? (As I indicated last week, I have clothes that are older than I am — probably in their 60s or 70s.). Then again, I can’t believe it’s December already, so feel free to disregard my statements about time. (And confidentially, I play stupid, but I usually know I’m going to be about 5-10 minutes late, and so do my friends.)

A greeting card awaiting the perfect occasion

A greeting card awaiting the perfect occasion

My list for the week starts now! (I’m emulating cable news shows.) (For no reason.)

1) Greeting cards, as they used to be called, are my jam. When I find something that resonates as a future birthday, get well, thank you, or congratulations message, I buy it. If it’s smart and funny enough, I might buy two. I know it’s old fashioned to send cards, and I know a lot of people just throw them out, but I like the opportunity of writing to people. I know I’m always delighted to receive a hand written note or card from a friend. It’s a perk-me-up in my mailbox.

Magpie on Amsterdam Ave. in NYC

Magpie on Amsterdam Ave. in NYC

Because I am a #Giver, I will tell you some of the best sources for my card collection: the New Orleans Museum of Art giftshop, the gift shop at the Seattle Central Library, Madewell Stores (who knew?), a great shop called Magpie on the Upper West Side, and Book Culture bookstore on Columbus Avenue.


2) I also love to buy presents for friends at the holidays. Not all friends and not all holidays. But I enjoy matching person and gift. It’s like creating a successful blind date. I love watching the recipient’s facial expression when he or she opens my gift. I aim to please. That’s all.


3) I’m reading a book I am enjoying so much — and unusually for me, it’s a memoir. It’s Claire Tomalin’s A Life of My Own. Best known as a biographer — (of Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Mary Wollstonecraft) — I read an excerpt online and then had to secure a copy of it. She writes so clearly and with such feeling of daily occurrences, and yet it’s unputtdownable.

[An] intelligent and humane book…There is genuine appeal in watching this indomitable woman continue to chase the next draft of herself. After a while, the pages turn themselves. Tomalin has a biographer’s gift for carefully husbanding her resources, of consistently playing out just enough string. When she needs to, she pulls that string tight.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times


4) Do it Yourself Kiosks at the Post Office. You walk into the post office with energy, gusto, and some optimism. The line is long, but you assume since it’s Christmas season, there will be a lot of windows open to service the customers. There are only two windows being manned ,and one of the clerks is arguing with her patron. It’s going to be a long wait, and your phone only has 10% charge. As you start to unwrap yourself from the many layers causing you to perspire, you notice no queue at the self-service area. EUREKA! A victory. A victory for me and for you and the recipient of my packages. Frankly, I go to the post office all the time. And yes, sometimes the self-service machines are broken. Sometimes they too have a line. But if your package is already wrapped and sealed, it’s a much more efficient way to go.

5) As usual, you know who.


Any day… any day….

Happy Chanukah and Act Natural!