Like it or not – ready or not – the holiday season is upon us. Maybe a novel way to start off Christmas would be a trip to our sister city, Milwaukee. It’s a lovely and clean city, not too far away and has lots of Christmas spirit, not to mention a world famous art museum.

You could begin with the breathtaking Milwaukee Art Museum on the lake (better go on a day that’s not windy if you want to see the sails open). Next, you could visit Merge Gallery, directed and staffed by our own Valerie Christell, daughter of Shirley and Jack Christell. Merge Gallery is located at 207 E. Buffalo, suite #204. That’s Buffalo and Water streets right in downtown Milwaukee. Then after you have spent time viewing the artworks at the gallery, you can go out, through the building, to a charming little restaurant that sits right on the river. It’s called The Ale House. Delicious food and charming atmosphere.

Right after the New Year our post office is scheduled to close. We love our mailmen. Should I say mail carriers? They knew our names and addresses. I fear we will all become auxiliary mailmen soon, hand delivering mail that came into our mailboxes but clearly addressed to other people at other peoples’ addresses.

Arriving just in time for Christmas is new baby Ellery Bland, sister of Sam and Sadie. Welcome, Ellery.

Right up there with Santa and snowflakes is Christmas music. The Michael Teolis Singers will recognize the 80th birthday of Carl Schalk, one of Chicago’s most prolific composers. Excerpts from his recent work, Scenes from the New Testament and Here We Come A-Wassailing, will be performed at the Dec. 5 concert at First United Methodist Church, 324 N. Oak Park Ave., at 7:30 p.m. For more information visit To purchase tickets, call 366-2889.

More music at the same church comes with the annual Messiah sponsored by the church and MacDowell Artists. The funds from this concert benefit PADS in Maywood. The date for this event is Dec. 6 at 3:30 in the afternoon. Just sitting in the church, absorbing the beauty of the Christmas greenery and listening to the music is enough to get you in the spirit. Professional soloists and orchestra make everything just about perfect.

The youngest cellist in Forest Park performed in his first recital last week. He is Antonio Gassi, son of Daniel and Sarah Gassi. You’ll be hearing more about this musician in the future, I’m sure. The music of Mr. and Mrs. Gassi, and several of their students, will add to the beauty of our Christmas Walk, Dec. 4 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Birthday greetings to Karen McGrath, Gina Barger, Ariel Smith, Brian Hawkins, Meagan Ryann, May Bill, Jessica Marafatsos, Maddie MacKay, Michael Branda, Patrick Rice, Gerry Janopoulos, Bradley Specter and Carla Loyd. Happy anniversary to John and Carol O’Donnell.

Happy Thanksgiving!