Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Sunday After Thanksgiving

Dino & Harry' Christmas Tree, November 27, 2011

By tradition, we'd be in Hoboken today putting up Dino's Christmas tree at the restaurant.

Frank Sinatra singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas would be playing in the background.

Dino would be fussing with the branches and the ladders and the lights and the toy train.

Susan in high heels, would be at the top of the ladder, 16 feet up getting the star straightened and hanging the special ornaments that always go at the top.

Safely at ground level, I'd be cautioning Susan to be careful while handing up Max's baseball, the Dino/Bruno ornament, Susan's quilted bunny, the Ho Ho Hoboken ornament, and all the other ornaments that over the years had become the stories we told that never got old.

When Max was younger (he's in college now), he'd be our best helper hanging all the Jets and Yankees ornaments, and was especially useful in sneaking around the back of the tree to be sure we had all the right ornaments in place to shine through the windows to the street.

Each year I'd find the pig ornament (the only pig on the tree because Susan doesn't like pigs) and put it right in front at eye level only to find it later tucked in the back and out of sight. By far, the pig was the most transient of all of our ornaments, but each year, if only for a few minutes, he got his time to shine.

As afternoon yielded to evening, friend by friend the restaurant filled and the tree grew brighter with each new arrival.

Liza always brought a special new ornament for the tree so we had to be sure to find a perfect spot for it.

Al always stopped by for a beer and helped out when we needed some height after the ladders had been put away.

Ellen always brought her elegant smile. Peter and Jill all the way from Brooklyn brought laughter and love. Tamara and Ollie never failed to show up with the silliest ornament of the season. 

Bobby and Elysa and Sammy and Jason always came for dinner. When they were little Bobby would lift the kids up to see where their special ornaments were this year. (They're tall enough to see for themselves now.)

As the evening wore on, we'd sit and sip wine and agree it was the best tree yet.

And so it would go each Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Photograph courtesy of

On Monday, October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New Jersey/New York coastal region. Lives were lost. Homes destroyed. Businesses left in ruins. For so many, life will never be the same.

Against such tragedy, we are so very lucky. Amongst our group of friends and family, no one was hurt and everyone's home stayed dry. We are safe. We are still together. And we are thankful.

And the restaurant, Dino & Harry's on 14th and Garden, which was closest to the flood zone survived as well, but didn't get away completely unscathed. Flooded with four feet of water in the basement, Dino lost his stock room, his office and computer systems, and more than 1,000 Christmas ornaments.

Dino & Harry's has reopened now, and everything is back to normal. But this will be the year without a Christmas tree. And while we're all missing our Hoboken holiday tradition this year, now more than ever we are mindful of those who have lost so much and those who never had much to begin with.

We have 371 days until the next Sunday after Thanksgiving, so tonight we launch Ho Ho Hoboken, our journey to restore Dino's Christmas tree and along the way, bring a little joy to those who need Christmas more than we do.

Please join us.

Ho Ho Hoboken, everyone!

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