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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Presence trumps presents on holidays

This afternoon, on New Year’s Eve Day, my son David mentioned that he was getting himself Jerry Benjamin’s book, “Tales from the Sausage Factory.”
Bad mother! I had meant to get it for him for Christmas. When I couldn’t wrangle a signed copy, I let it slide … right out of my mind.
Don’t sweat it, he said.
I can’t help it.
Even though though our two boys are now men -- ages 21 and 23 -- I still take a cue from Santa and make a list for Christmas presents. Unlike Santa’s, my list isn't divided into naughty and nice, but simply "Dave" and "Joe." They have mostly different interests, so they usually don't get many of the same things. I list the gifts for each, trying to achieve equality in both number and relative value. I’ve been doing it since at least one of them was old enough to notice.
Knife set equals massage certificate; slippers equal guitar accessories; Wilco album equals Sausage book … ooops.
I just didn’t get into shopping.
The person for whom the day carries the most religious meaning, my wonderful husband, reminds me that he is not materialistic and assured me that he doesn't care about the presents. I know this to be true. Yet I still feel sorry that I didn’t have a “wow” gift under the tree for him.
Since I’m Jewish, it wasn’t until I married a Catholic that I started to celebrate Christmas. One of my favorite traditions is the decorating of the tree: Light eggnog cut with skim milk (still not all that light), a CD of Christmas songs, and a happy/tearful hanging of the four ornaments hand painted by my mother-in-law, who died much too young, when Joe was only one and she was only 59. My most treasured ornament is the one she painted of our brown house with a little boy (David) puffed up in a snowsuit out front.
I was so happy and fortunate to have both boys and my husband together for the holidays. That was really my greatest gift (though I intend to hold David to his promise of tennis lessons).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A terrible tragedy in Wilton

Two 12-year-old friends in Wilton are fooling around, and one accidentally shoots the other dead. There are so many things that can and will be said about this tragedy, but the only word appropriate now is condolences. My heart goes out to the two Wilton families.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Here's how to find Emily's cookies

This original post had the link to Emily's cookies that was good only after you've confirmed the purchase. Thanks to the readers who alerted me to this error. To get in on a good thing, check out the corrected link at the end of the file. Her lemon stars were a big hit at the Christmas party, but I'm still partial to the coconut macaroons. And she's preparing a line for upcoming seasons. What says Presidents Day better than a sugar cookie shaped like Abraham Lincoln?

When Online Editor Emily Donohue came aboard the Good Ship Saratogian, first as an intern and later as a reporter, I knew she knew something about desserts, having worked for Ben and Jerry's during her school years. Plus, I figured anyone who could work for Pat Pipino would have no problem working for me.
She became the Twitter Queen as county reporter, and this fall stepped up to the position of online editor when Steve Shoemaker left for the web world of Ithaca academia.
Little did I know that Donohue was not only a social media whiz, learning, doing, innovating, and training, but she's also a fantastic baker. That's a plus in a place where we work for food.
This morning she had two trays in the cafeteria beautifully arranged with scrumptious cookies — glazed stars, gingerbread men, pinwheels, fat peppermint sandwiches, glazed almond chai bites, signature cranberry and coconut macaroons. They looked too good to eat -- which didn't stop me or anyone else, of course.
Now I know what I'm bringing to the office holiday party -- cookies by Emily.
Here's her website if you're looking to impress without the stress: