“As we grow older, we must edit our lives of things and people who don’t nourish our souls. Instead, surround ourselves with kindred spirits and wonderful friends to give and receive love, friends who keep you grounded, share lots of laughter, respect and encourage you to dream. As we grow older, reinvent yourself, take risks.” Anon

“These are a few of my favorite things” that let me know “gee whiz it’s Christmas” Nothing ignites the spirit of Christmas in me the way the lighting of the Washington Monument does. That’s the start of the Christmas season for me. The record setting crowd at the 40th celebration of this historic tradition was electrified as the “sound of music” drifted “in the still of the night.” The spectacular fireworks and laser show reflecting off the windows of the mansions in Mt Vernon while illuminating the clear sky cast a magical aura over the evening as people of all ages enjoyed the festivities.

After the fireworks, we joined revelers Libby Massey, Sheilah Davenport, Debbie Allen, Dr. Mallory Crawford, Sen. Verna Jones, Mayor Rawlings Blake and her daughter Sophie for refreshments in the Walters Mansion, while making stops at the Engineers Club and C Lounge.

“Santa Baby” the first Saturday in December, I ‘m at Cross Street market awaiting the arrival of Santa. In the spirit of Christmas, more than 100 Santas participate in a fun-filled day of revelry during the annual Santa bar crawl through Fells Point raising money for charities.

“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed against the earth’s sweet flowing breast. A tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray. A tree that may in summer wear a nest of robins in her hair. Upon whose bosom snow has lain, who intimately lives with rain, Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”Joyce Kilmer

Each Thanksgiving weekend my son Michael and his family go to Doyle’s Douglas fir tree farm in White Hall for their traditional search for the perfect Christmas tree. The joyful anticipation each year when he says they found a tree leaves me tingling knowing he’ll surprise me with a tree as well. This year he texted me the picture of the tree he was cutting for me. I pray I never grow too old to appreciate the spirit of Christmas. Call Doyle’s Tree Farm at 410-404-2095 for directions.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” During the holiday season take time to check out a few of Baltimore’s restaurants. The Four Seasons located in harbor east is a fantastic place to meet friends for happy hour or after dinner drinks. The Wit & Wisdom Lounge offers a fantastic waterfront view with an outside patio; or sit in one of the lounging areas with your own personal fireplace. Their menu consists of Maryland favorites with an old twist but new taste. They only serve beer from the region; but we all know that an ice-cold natty boh cannot be beat. Guess what! They have complimentary valet parking.

Surprise your family with The Avenue Bakery’s homemade yeast rolls this holiday season. The menu includes muffins, bread pudding and raisin buns. For more information and hours of operation, call 410-225-3881.

“Sororities symbolize all that we wish to accomplish in our lives. They represent the struggles we all face as we grow. Why we cling to them no one can explain, but in the end, we are all stronger for it.” Anon

“I’m coming out” Pink and green gift bags overflowed into the halls of the BWI Hilton as members of Rho Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority welcomed Ashley Armstead, Tykia Christian, Rosa Combs, Madeleine Downing, Aja Page, Deborah Courtney Peterson, Jennifer Smith Jennings, Farrin Stanton and Alicia Williams into their illustrious sisterhood. The atmosphere reminded you of Christmas as the newest members were lauded with gifts and well wishes from their sorority sisters and families.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great, make you feel that you, too, can become great.”Mark Twain

Our little Zoe Washington is continuing to make headway with her “LITTLEbird” line. She’s been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Oprah, Seventeen and “Keep it moving” on WEAA. Zoe’s mom, Dr. Marie Washington, grandmother, Ms. Birdie and big sister Jackie are “busting loose” with the success of Zoe’s LITTLEbird.

“Is this the little girl I carried, is this the little boy at play, I don’t remember growing older when did they?” It seems like “yesterday” when Zoe was on the “A train” headed to New York to work for Vogue.

“It’s your birthday make some noise” Celebration time for my daughter Lisa Lee Packer, Laura Byrd, Lindsey Hill, Albert Queen, Dr. Charlene Cooper Boston, Dr. Walter Amprey, Eleanor Matthews,Tyrone Qualls, and Cordell Boone.

“God’s finger touched him and he slept.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

Prayers to Marian Turner on the death of her husband, Clarence “Diddy” Turner, and JP Grant on the death of his mother Mabel Young.

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” Hubert Humphrey

Sending friendship and love to Peaches Campher, Lousonia Jefferson and Elvard Cooper.

“I’ll be home for Christmas” wishing our troops a safe journey home. Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch