And for a year-end wrap-up from the internet:

Image result for st helena napa valley holiday photo main street

Please visit the wineries and businesses listed to the right for holiday-related updates.

Here’s a way to get into the holiday spirit:

First, good to know this, according to the 12/23 San Francisco Chronicle:

The government may be partially shut down, but that won’t stop hundreds of volunteers dressed in Christmas hats and military uniforms Monday from taking calls from children around the world who want to know when Santa will be coming.

The military says NORAD Tracks Santa won’t be affected by the partial shutdown because it is run by volunteers at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado and is funded by the Department of Defense’s budget that was approved this year.

Now in its 63rd year, the Santa tracker became a Christmas Eve tradition after a mistaken phone call to the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs in 1955. CONAD, as it was known, had the serious job of monitoring a far-flung radar network for any sign of a nuclear attack on the United States.

When Col. Harry Shoup picked up the phone that day, he found himself talking not to a military general, but to a child who wanted to speak to Santa Claus. A Colorado Springs newspaper had run an ad inviting children to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline number.

Shoup figured out what had happened and played along. The tradition has since mushroomed into an elaborate operation that attracts tens of thousands of calls every year.

For the 1,500 civilian and military volunteers who will answer the phones for kids calling 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), it infuses the holiday with childlike wonder.

“They’re all really sweet, small voices,” said Madison Hill, a volunteer who has answered the phones.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command — a joint U.S.-Canadian operation based in Colorado Springs — has taken over the Santa tracker since the tradition started.

A peek at windows in New York:

Holiday cheer from other voices:

And don’t forget, whether there’s a child in the house or not:


And a discussion of why holiday windows matter:

“….David Hoey, the senior director of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, was sitting in his “war room” the other day when his cellphone rang. Mr. Hoey begged a visitor’s pardon; the phrase “little crisis” was invoked.

“Are you kidding me?” Mr. Hoey said into the phone. “So where you’d go? All right. Let me call you back. Get the 16. How many do they have?” Mr. Hoey pocketed the intrusive device and looked up apologetically. These were the final hours of an undertaking nearly a year in gestation: On Nov. 16, curtains on Fifth Avenue would drop, revealing Bergdorf’s holiday windows.

For the most important selling season of the year, the venerable department stores of New York have marshaled their resources for elaborate displays of festive cheer. These are a family tradition and a tourist destination, a spare-no-expense arms race for delighted gasps, bugged eyes and Instagram feeds.

“It’s a juggernaut right now,” Mr. Hoey said. “Here’s what we’re looking for: We’re trying to induce aesthetic delirium.”