“Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.” – Francis C. Farley

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” I get giddy in anticipation when I see fireworks, the first snowflake and Christmas lights. Attending the lighting of the Washington Monument is a tradition dating back to Mayors Schaffer and “Du” Burns. We would gather at the corner of Charles and North Avenue for the lighting of the tree. “Baby it’s cold outside” Depending on the chill of the night a parade of people would travel down Charles Street for the lighting of the Washington monument or we would meet at The Belvedere and watch the lighting from the 13th floor.

“As time goes by” we now go to the Walters Art gallery for cider, the Engineers Club and then to George’s at the Peabody. This year the crowd at George’s was nine deep at the bar so we sat in the lounge area. The anticipation was overwhelming. I kept anxiously glancing at my watch, unable to eat the delicious crab dip.

“Suddenly” like magic the lights appear, the fireworks explode and the “sound of music” fills the air. After the lighting, Mount Vernon was aglow with the spirit of Christmas as revelers spilled into the streets and restaurants. We stopped at Dionysus, overflowing with holiday revelers coming in from the lighting and the cold, to toast the season. The menu offers a variety of wings. We ordered the “sissy buffalo wings” ?whew ? so delicious tossed in a robust spicy sauce. Wasn’t nothing sissy about those wings!

I had a natural ball hanging out with Tamar Cloyd, Adam Brown, Cassandra Vincent, Talib Horne, Reuel Belt, Ian Schlakman, Rashid Belt, Karenthia Barber and Marc Gentile, owner of Lil Havana on Key Highway.

“Come to the cabaret.” You must experience an event sponsored by Carlos Hutchins’ Production. Plenty of fun, dancing, live entertainment and door prizes including a flat screen TV. The food-laden spread John Wood and guests Marci Flournoy, Rudy and Regina Dillard, Wendell Wright, Eunice Johnson, Roland Robinson and Dee Brown prepared had everything from soup to nuts. Everyone brought their specialty including my famous bread pudding and sweet potato pies, which complemented the ham, fried chicken, crab balls, steamed shrimp and homemade potato salad. What a feast, what a production!

Others enjoying the group Slagz were Dante and Candance Daniels, Becky Gorman, Linda and Ronald Smithwick, Lucille McCoy, Kim Mason, Patricia Rideout, Diane Leach, St Louis, Jackie Brock, Roscoe Heigh, Margaret and Leroy Gray, Carl Beasley and the Eastside Poets.

“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

What an honor, being among the more than 250 people attending the unveiling of the inaugural edition of Who’s Who in Black Baltimore at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Among noted Baltimoreans featured in the book are Dr. Anne Emery, Dr. Thelma Dailey, Betty Hines, Marsha Jews, Tyrone Tabor, Dan Henson, Judge Robert Bell, Wanda Oliver, Bishop Walter Thomas, Rev. Frank Reid, Dana Moore and the AFRO’s John “Jake” Oliver, Kristin Gray and Talibah Chikwendu. Orchids to Darren McMillan, publisher of the book.

“What a difference a day makes.” Days later I am back at the museum for the black tie Reginald F. Lewis Service, Achievement & Philanthropy Gala, honoring Judge Andre Davis, Judge Michele Hotten and Phoebe Haddon. The transformation of the museum into an elegant venue for dining and dancing with beautifully adorned tables and stunning floral arrangements was breathtaking. Guests feasted on hors d’oeuvres of lamb chops, crab cakes and grilled shrimp at the Executive Directors Reception before the program and the unveiling of the Reginald Lewis bust.

The sit- down dinner of Chilean sea bass and filet mignon was lip-smacking good. Kudos to Jimmy Britton and staff for a superb meal. Guests enjoying the gala were Frank and Diane Hocker, Geoffrey and Yvonne Miller, Clarence and Sherry Massey, Bernice McNair, Takiea Hinton, Portia Wood, Victor and Lola March, Karen and Ronald Murphy, John “Jake” Oliver, William and Mattie Mumby, Dr. Harold Carter, Jerome and Paula Stephens, Judge Alexander and Marian Wright, Arnold and Virgie Williams and Larry Gibson. Upon leaving, the gala guests received a keepsake replica of the museum.

“When a man loves a woman” Happy anniversary Frank and Marcia Coakley.

“When I heard those guys play saxophone, I knew that’s what I wanted to play.” James Moody RIP

Condolences to Bernina Grady and family on the death of Ronald Grady; to Bunny and Edna Montgomery on the death of their mother Amanda Montgomery and to the family of Elizabeth Edwards, a breast cancer champion.

“It’s your birthday, make some noise!”

Happy birthday Eleanor “Pete” Matthews, Darren Henson, John “Dr. John” Wynder, Barbara Hill, Addie Brown, Charlene Cooper-Boston , Gina Sammons, Coretha Spears, Walter “Billy” Hill, Sharon Grant, Sandra Harried, Charles Faison and Jameson Lawrence, it’s “celebration time!”

Praise the Lord Saints!

Special birthday wishes to the elders of the village: Woodrow Wilson Parker, 93 and Laura Phillips, 91. Violets to Delta Sigma Theta Soror Minnie McClease on her 102nd birthday.

“We wish you a Merry Christmas” Upcoming annual Christmas parties: Dec. 17, Sheriff John Anderson’s party at The Sign of the Times; Dec.18, Tequila Sunset and The Place; Dec. 19, Maceo’s; Dec. 22, Bobby’s Jazz Club

Think of each light twinkling on your Christmas tree as your blessings.

Merry Christmas Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch