My nose is pressed firmly to the glass.


Remember when you were a kid and the Christmas window at the big department store downtown was a huge deal? Or if that wasn't your experience, at least remember that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie and Randy have their noses pressed up against the glass, marvelling at all the wonders? That movie was shot in Toronto. Those windows are from the old Simpson's Department Store on Yonge Street (now The Bay). I might be romanticizing this some, but those windows were a big part of the holidays when I was a kid. Fake snow. Model trains ("thank god for model trains"). Teddy Bears piled to the ceiling. They're not really anything to look at anymore, and that's a shame. Part of it is the fact that I'm grown, I'm sure, but the reality is those windows just aren't what they used to be.

This afternoon I read in the paper that Holt Renfrew, the upscale department store in Yorkville was going to be unveiling their Holiday windows tonight. And to kick off the festivities? A free 30 minute concert, right there on the street, from (drumroll) Aretha Franklin! It's things like this that remind me of why I love living in the big city so much. "Let's see...what should I do after work tonight? I could do pretty much ANYTHING, but I think I'll saunter that-a way and catch The Queen of Soul performing on the SIDEWALK. Yeah. And maybe I'll grab a Starbucks too."

More pictures of Aretha Franklin Live on Bloor Street.

The crowd was a mix of Holt Renfrew upscale VIP types, curiosity seekers and really, really excited gay guys. Oh, how I love the excitable gay. You put an excitable gay in the vicinity of a Diva the stature of Miss Aretha Franklin and there's going to be some breathless sighing, some hand waving and some "Giiiiiirlllll! We LOVE you GIIIIIRRRRLLLLL!" going on. I love it.

I'm going to admit it, I fell in love with this one guy. Let's call him "Superfan". You know who you are, Superfan, if you're out there, look me up. You're fabulous.

Anyway, Aretha was in fine form, belting out her hits like R-E-S-P-E-C-T and Natural Woman much to the crowd's delight. She also played a new song from her upcoming Spring release, an original tune, that she played piano on. Very nice. Very nice indeed. Aretha strikes me as the type that would, all things considered, rather be home, watching her stories, eating some mac and cheese. And hey, I identify, believe me. I can't imagine what they must have paid her for this appearance. Seriously.

At the end of her thirty minute set, they dropped the red velvet curtains to reveal the Holiday windows and people, I couldn't have been more excited. I wasn't expecting much. Hell, I wasn't expecting anything really. What I saw tonight in the windows of Holt Renfrew brought me the kind of joy I remember Christmas windows bringing me when I was a kid. Only this time it was fake snow, elegant ornaments and designer fashions. The vibe is very mid century and the set pieces are all white, oversized and wildly glamourous. The colour, and there is lots of it, comes from the clothes and the accessories. Divine. I felt like I had walked smack in the middle of Kay Thompson's world. As I'm sure you can imagine, that's a world I'm terribly fond of. Feast your eyes on this.

This entire evening, which included the first really perfect cold weather of the season, a free candy cane and a caramel apple cider on the way home was what I can only describe as "so New York". It was almost like we had our own little version of the Rockefeller Center tree lighting. It's well documented that I'm a sucker for the holiday season and tonight, I jumped in with both feet. In early November. I know, I know, it's all about consumerism and blah, blah, blah, but the thing is...twinkly lights, fake snow and phoney good will make me wildly happy. The next few weeks are going to be all about absorbing the atmosphere. The first week in December is going to be all about the holiday tunes. The countdown is on! My nose is firmly pressed up against the window.


  1. When I was a really little kid it was all about the Stix Baer and Fuller department store window. They closed years ago and nobody has come close to their grandeur since. Plus? Every year they had a creepy little knome dude as their holiday mascot. I don't know why, but I found him oddly comforting even though he weirded me out.

    About Aretha? Are her boobies as hugely scary in person as they are on tv? Just wondering...

  2. It's Turkey-Lurkey Time and I'm lovin' it!

    THE BOY (your nephew) snuggled with teaching staff and sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

    YOURS TRULY has used the word "toady" in a scrabble game.

    It's time for Bing Crosby and Perry Como!

  3. You make me want to leave it all behind and move to Toronto. Can I pitch a tent on your balcony?


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