Sunday, December 28, 2008


Little Hugo, from Madrid, fastens his huge eyes on an shiny ornament. He's learning about Christmas before he learns to walk--and he'll be at the Christmas market pictured below within three years.

Perhaps he'll choose an ornament instead of, or in addition to, the nativity scene figurine that Spanish children traditional brought home.

(Sweet Hugo is the son of Elena at Grupo SM Edgar & Ellen's publisher in Spain)

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Thursday, December 18, 2008


At the Christmas Market in Madrid's Plaza Mayor, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, snowmen (it barely snows) and ornaments have encroached on world of Nativity Scene figurines. Those lively villages spread over tables full of animals, mountains, innkeepers and lonely shepherds. But they no longer dominate the market.

I recalled the Lego insight, that boys build UP and girls build OUT. A tree rises to the ceiling, while a "Nacimiento" builds an extended community. Christmas in Spain may tilting toward the boy side.

Nacimientos, though, have a new trick: battery power. Boys goggled at the turning water-wheels, perpetually lucky fishermen, clothes-hanging washerwomen, and hammering blacksmiths. They pointed and grandparents plunked down their Euros.

Lucky boys and girls of Spain: they have two terrific ways to decorate and now, two gift occasions. They get gifts not just on Three Kings Day, but on Christmas day, too.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008


My trend-muse, Aimee, says keep your eye on toothpicks. Not even theater students smoke these days, she says. Consequently, the hotspots in Manhattan offer toothpicks in appealing containers. They come in flavors, too, cool mint being the menthol version.

I predict slick personal packs next. What could be a simpler free premium for college marketing?


Monday, December 01, 2008


On Nov. 29th this staid convention center in Ohio became a tween hot spot for one night. The parents evidently hadn't read the news saying they'd spend less on tweens this season.

A Bar Mitzvah took over a ballroom and conference rooms as Guitar Hero, a "tattoo parlor," video karaoke, a DJ and a full sit-down dinner rolled out. I suspect that this child didn't just get the predicted books and board games as gifts, either.

I was there for the other end of the age spectrum. My 83-year-old widowed father was getting married. Some of our younger guests (under 35) went next door to get tattooed.

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