"It's the Holiday Season..."

We put our Christmas tree up on October 22.  Yes - October 22.

So - I always love Thanksgiving week and weekend,  when the rest of the world starts decorating and getting into the holiday spirit as well!  And that Andy Williams song mentioned above seems to play on an endless loop in stores and on our Pandora.

Since I generally wrap up November travel the week before Thanksgiving, Scott and I have several traditions for the holiday week at home together before the craziness of December travel starts.  However, this year's schedule was a bit different because I was still finalizing details for two TV segments on Black Friday morning (more on that later).

On Thanksgiving morning, the Macy's parade is across Central Park from where we live, so the Upper East Side is fairly quiet.  So we headed out early for breakfast and a stroll in the crisp autumn chill.

We then came home, and after chopping, slicing and dicing a small mountain of veggies for dinner, I set the table.  I never met a sequined place mat I didn't like, so I layer up the table with as many place mats and charger plates and glasses as possible - while leaving a bit of room for the food.

While I always enjoy making holiday dinners from scratch, I had to be realistic about this year's time constraints.  I did bake pumpkin bread  - absolutely essential to our Thanksgiving menu - the weekend before.  On Tuesday, I picked up a roasted turkey breast, and then dropped by Whole Foods for cranberry sauce and dinner rolls. 

That lets me focus on the vegetables, which occupy the limited amount of real estate in our oven.  Oven-roasted creamer potatoes with herbs de Provence, roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta, and a mix of vegetable stir-fry with peppers, green beans, water chestnuts, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots rounded out the menu. 

For several years, our dear friends Ivy & Simon and Nancy & Jean-Jacques have joined us for Thanksgiving.   We had an easy, relaxing afternoon and dinner, laughing, catching up and reflecting on what we are thankful for.  We decided that we enjoy our Thanksgivings so much that we will add "spring-giving" to our schedule for April or May.

I always cook twice as much as food as we will actually eat on Thanksgiving.  Maybe that is the Southern girl in me, or perhaps because I have a habit of inviting more guests at the last-minute.  But that also guarantees plenty of leftovers - both for us and for guests to take home.

Friday morning, we were up at 3 a.m. to head to "FOX & Friends," which booked me to do two segments featuring Black Friday shopping deals.  Yes, that's early - but one upside is that it only takes about 10 minutes to travel the 40 blocks to the studio in predawn Manhattan.  At that hour, pretty much the only people on the streets were those who already lined up for stores opening at 5 a.m.

Once we unloaded a van-load of props into the studio, Scott and our set-up crew (our friends John, Evan and a different food stylist for each segment), started setting up the table for my first segment.  I then headed down the hall from the studio to hair and makeup - FOX has the best! - to get camera-ready. 

Then - it was on-the-air with all three anchors for our first spot at 6:30 a.m.; a rush to clean up the table and set up for the next segment; and the final hit at 7:30 a.m.  

Clean-up goes fairly quickly, especially when food is involved.  Happily, the crew made quick work of helping us "clean up" the burgers, chocolate-covered strawberries, and other food piled high on the tables.

After the show, Scott and I dashed home to drop off the props, and then headed to one of our favorite diners, Café Luka, to have breakfast and make our shopping list.  One of our Black Friday traditions - now six years strong - is a morning trip to Bed Bath & Beyond.  In recent years, the store (full disclosure: they are one of my clients) has offered 20 percent off your entire purchase all day long on Black Friday, as long as you come into the store and pick up your coupon before noon. 

So, after a breakfast of eggs and too-many-cups-of-coffee-to-count (did I mention we got up at 3 a.m.?), we headed to their First Avenue store and stocked up on exotic purchases such as washcloths, K-cups, a few throw pillows to update our living room décor - and travel size toiletries in the Harmon Face Values section.  While we save a lot of money, I think Scott's favorite part is that he gets to play with the shopping cart escalators.

Friday afternoon, after wrapping up details connected with the day's shows, we pretty much crashed.

Saturday, we headed to the cinema (with Netflix and Amazon, this a rare occurrence) to catch the new Brad Pitt - Marion Cotillard World War II drama "Allied." I loved it, but might have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't seen so many trailers and reviews that revealed a bit too much of the plot.  So, don't read too much about it - just go and enjoy.

After church on Sunday, it was time to relax and finish packing and planning for my holiday TV tour that will have me up-in-the-air almost every day until Christmas.  One of the things I love about holiday season travel is checking out airport Christmas trees across the country.  Follow me on Instagram to come along on the tour.

Happy holiday season!