Tag Archives: holidays

Valentine’s Day Is Here!

I think it’s perfectly fine to indulge yourself with a glass of bubbly, a fabulous homemade dinner and anything else that you enjoy on Valentine’s Day.  Just because you’re on your own doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate!  As a matter of fact, it’s important to pull out the stops!

“All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”                                  Charles M. Schulz

Valentine sweets

Have some chocolate!

By now, you’ve shopped for cards, sent them to friends, picked up the roses and done some relaxing reading on the subject of love.  The lead-up to the day should be really helpful.  I think fully embracing the moment is key.  Yes, I can also get pretty sentimental on a holiday like this, when I’m on my own.  But that’s why facing it head-on is the best strategy, because either way, the holiday itself is unavoidable!



So, as the sun sets on the holiday, set a beautiful table, enjoy your meal and settle in for a fabulous film, like “Love Actually”, or “Something’s Gotta Give”.  And be sure to raise that glass of bubbly and salute yourself for having had an unexpectedly fabulous holiday.  That’s how to celebrate Valentine’s Day at “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2017 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved


Reading and Roses

Second step towards Valentine’s Day on your own.  Explore things you love to do.  Expand the meaning of the day, to include some of the activities you enjoy most.  I love flowers and the way they brighten the environment, even at the many stalls throughout the city.  Particularly in winter, I notice them even more, as they burst out against the grey backdrop of the streets and sky.  Why not treat yourself to a bouquet on Valentine’s Day?  Don’t wait for someone else to give you roses!   Challenge yourself to look at things differently.

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns.  I am thankful that thorns have roses.”  Alphonse Karr

Valentine's Day flowers

Roses, roses, roses

While roses give such pleasure, so do books!  Grab your favorite books on the topic of love and tuck into one, in celebration of the holiday. Enjoy a “refresh” on the subject of love. I keep some of my favorite books nearby at all times. A recent addition to my collection is “A Breviary of Psalms, Pictures & Poems”, written by my friend, Father Timothy Brown, S.J. Filled with beautiful reflections, it’s another inspirational and thought provoking book of his that illuminates new ways to understand love and life.  Here’s one of his selected poems:

Valentine's Day read

Reading and roses

The Early Morning 

The moon on the one hand, the dawn on the other:                                                                              The moon is my sister, the dawn is my brother.                                                                                      The moon on my left and the dawn on my right.                                                                                       My brother, good morning: my sister, good night.

Hilare Belloc

 Incorporate the notion that the world around us offers endless beauty everyday and it’s easy to find ways to celebrate love in many forms.  Not just through the people we love, but through the beauty of art, books, music, poetry, prayer, food, even nature itself.   Love encompasses all things.

A simply wonderful way to approach Valentine’s Day as it arrives as “A Table For One.”

Copyright 2017 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved








Here Comes Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m reminded that this can be a difficult holiday, if you’re not able to celebrate it with someone special.  This year, I’ll be on my own, so I thought I’d do something different that I can share with you.  I created a plan to incorporate some pre and post Valentine’s Day activities to try out a new way of celebrating being on my own!

“Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.”  Jean de La Fontaine

Celebrate with cards

Valentine’s Day friends

Strange as it may seem, this strategy, to extend the holiday over several days, is turning out to be very uplifting!  On Saturday morning, I set out to buy cards to send to friends.  Thinking about reinforcing my friendships by sending messages opened up my mind to the fact that others may be facing the upcoming holiday as well.  And I saw an opportunity to touch them with a reminder that their friendship inspires me and makes me feel grateful.


Cards, cards, cards!

Emails and text messages, FaceBook and other social media are great ways to communicate with friends.  But sending cards, through what has become known as “snail mail” is more fun on this particular holiday.  I think it creates a different impact on the receiver.

Send a note!

Snail mail!

And it caused me to think about my friends, as I wrote notes to them.   Getting all of the cards out in the mail shifted my attention from how the holiday will affect me, onto how it will affect them.  And it gives me something to look forward to…their surprise when they receive the cards on Tuesday!   That’s a great way to approach Valentine’s Day at “A Table For One!

Copyright 2017, Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved

Memorial Day

Remembering the fallen and also those who fought and continue to fight in defense of freedom.  I think that Memorial Day is a unique holiday of patriotic celebration.  It’s even more poignant than the Fourth of July which is so exciting and celebratory.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”       Edith Wharton

I like to think of those who put their lives in harm’s way for our freedom as having had a calling and extraordinary vision.  Our present was their future and so I think it’s very important to understand the depth and meaning of their sacrifice.  Sometimes, this calls on some quiet time “alone” to meditate and connect to their heroic acts of bravery.


Memorial Day

This year, I was on my own for Memorial Day weekend.  And so, I went in search of the largest American flag I could find, to photograph it and express gratitude to those who made the supreme sacrifice.  It felt right.

Memorial Day sunset

Memorial Day sunset

And a moody sunset goes a long way to a heartfelt salute of the day’s end.  If you find yourself alone on any holiday, be sure to find a way to celebrate it and honor it in your own way.  It makes for a really memorable moment to treasure!  And that’s “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved



Easter NYC

With all the years I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve never attended the Saturday evening Easter Vigil mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  For the most part, it’s because I’m usually somewhere else with friends.  But this year, with Easter coming so early, I decided to stay in the city.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”              Edith Wharton

Then came the inspiration, to walk down to the Cathedral for the Saturday Easter service.  A spectacular celebration of The Resurrection of Christ.  Renewed life.  Joy.  Light.  In churches around the world, Easter begins with this most stunning of services on Saturday evening.

Ceremony of Light, St. Patrick's Cathedral NYC

Ceremony of Light, St. Patrick’s Cathedral NYC

Since New York is a magnet for tourists, our midtown iconic destinations, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just across from Rockefeller Center, is constantly buzzing with people, cameras, flash bulbs and excitement.  But it’s also a parish church and NY’s local citizens frequently attend mass there, as well.

My maternal grandmother attended daily mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  She was a true matriarch and lived an exciting city life at The Biltmore Hotel on East 43td St.   We frequently went with her, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for mass, so although it’s a real tourist attraction, for me it’s also home.

The celebration of light begins in darkness...

The celebration of light begins in darkness…

The mass begins with the cathedral cloaked in total darkness.  Then, a blazing fire is ignited at the back of the church.  The Cardinal begins the ceremony with readings.  All of the people hold candles which are subsequently lit from the same fire.  It’s breathtaking, as the church slowly illuminates by candle light and then finally the full-on brightness of every chandelier.  It’s so moving and takes your breath away.  I find that the pomp and circumstance of rituals like these are so stirring and special.  They’re perfect too, if you’re alone on a holiday.

Blessings from the Cardinal

Easter blessings from the Cardinal

Plan your holidays, but if you find yourself alone on one, I recommend looking at your surroundings as a tourist would.  Get out and explore.  Do something you’ve never thought of before.  Thinking like a tourist wherever you are will give you wonderful experiences to treasure.  And that’s “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved





St. Patrick’s Day NYC

I’ve come to think that New York City is one of the most exciting and accommodating cities in the world for Parades.  New York puts its rich diversity on display every year, with a host of parades honoring many different nationalities.  The St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of them and its said that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish.  Certainly, in New York this is true!

“I’m Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m Italian on Columbus Day.  I’m a New Yorker every day”.  Tamara Tunie

New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade!

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade!

The Parade participants march their way up Fifth Avenue from midtown all the way up to 86th St.  On display are the many counties of Ireland represented by flags, banners and people whose heritage dates back to these specific geographic areas in Ireland.  Many of those observing the parade happily cheer the counties their ancestors hail from too.

Bagpipers and their stirring aires!

Bagpipers and their stirring aires!

One of my absolute favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day is the number of bagpipers that come out in full regalia to march in the parade.  All along Fifth Ave., the stirring sounds of blaring bagpipes, drums and flutes fill the air.  It’s a truly unique and moving sight to see!

"Up Mayo!"

“Up Mayo!”

You can imagine that, with a last name of “O’Grady”, I definitely have Irish heritage.  My lineage also includes ancestors from France and England as well.  But I have to admit that I get a huge kick out of observing St. Patrick’s Day and attending the parade whenever possible.  I especially love seeing the County Mayo contingent marching.  That’s the county where my last name comes from.  In Ireland, if you said you were from Mayo, the response apparently was “God Help You”, because the soil was so rocky, it was nearly impossible to grow food there.

I like to think that some of my good traits can be traced back to this wonderful county that challenged my ancestors who learned to prevail and overcome any obstacles in their way.  As they say in Ireland “Up Mayo!”  Take “A Table For One” moment to enjoy a parade!

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved

Collecting Christmas

Years ago, along with the commitment to buying a bit of a bigger tree each year, I also began to collect ornaments from my travels.  It’s a great way to capture the essence of a special place you’ve been, or a special year you’ve had, or even just a keepsake as a treasured memory of home.  Christmas is a holiday you can celebrate all year, by collecting these mementos.

“One Christmas my father kept our tree up till March.  He hated to see it go.  I loved that.”                Mo Rocca

Christmas Ornaments

Creating a Collection of Ornaments

Christmas is so much a celebration of joy.  It brings with it nostalgia, anticipation of wonderful things to come and the warmth that comes with memories of good times with friends and family.  So, the first Christmas that I woke up alone in my little studio apartment in New York was a bit disorienting.  I had never imagined that I would have a Christmas morning alone.  It was both startling, disconcerting and also fun in a very different way.  I felt accomplished, having set up a tree, to ensure my Christmas day would start out festive and joyful.

Nantucket Ornament

Collect your ornaments all year long, including the wonderful places you visit!

I think that’s why having a Christmas tree every year, no matter what, became such an important thing to me.  It’s a wonderful and constant companion to the holiday, no matter if you’re with friends, family or on your own.  You will find yourself with plenty of time and parties to celebrate the holiday with lots of people.

But waking up to a tree dressed in the beautiful reminders of all the great places you’ve been to, or things that you’ve done, people you’ve known…that’s a really special thing that I think everyone should aim for at Christmas.  You get to savor the experience every day that the tree is up, not just on Christmas morning itself.  And it becomes so personal.



I have ornaments from London, Paris, Nantucket, New Mexico, Arizona, Provence, Italy, and more.  I have a small collection of glass bulbs from my mother’s trees.  I have ornaments that friends and colleagues gifted over the years.  I have a small collection of wooden ornaments, shells, a small creche.  I have a beautiful collection of the 12 days of Christmas.  And some that I made as a child in school.  Each one has meaning.

I always try to leave some ornaments out for anyone who comes to my home over the holidays to hang.  It gives me great pleasure to share my tree.  I call it “honoring the tree”.  And each morning leading up to Christmas, I turn on the tree lights, and sip my cup of coffee or tea while looking at it and recalling the meaning behind each treasured decoration.


Buckingham Palace London!

Playing special Christmas music.  Waking up to the refreshing aroma of pine, looking at this beautiful and unique creation.  All of it makes me feel so happy.  It’s a gift you can give yourself, every year, a very important one I think, especially if you’re on your own.

That’s “A Table For One” exquisite celebration!  Merry Christmas to all!

Copyright 2015 Marion M. O’Grady




Christmas and Trees

One of the most wonderful things about December is the number of Christmas trees that spring up everywhere.  I love Christmas and I love the proliferation of trees!

“I know that a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania is about the most random place for a country singer to come from, but I had an awesome childhood.”  Taylor Swift

I can totally identify with Taylor Swift’s description of an awesome childhood, having grown up on a Christmas tree farm.  It sounds like a dream come true!

Lots of decorations

Trees line the streets!

Christmas tree shopping was a ritual in my home growing up.  My Dad would pile us all into the trusty woodie wagon and we’d all head out to pick one out as a family, which was never easy!  The catch, however, was that my father loved to buy “live” trees that could be planted after Christmas.  This made it extra special, because you could see each Christmas tree permanently growing on our property.  It was a unique and truly memorable way to celebrate.

The tree is always the highlight at Christmas!

The tree is always the highlight at Christmas!

That may be why I became enthralled with Christmas trees from childhood, onward.  When I moved into New York to my first apartment, a small studio walk-up, I made a pledge to buy a Christmas tree every year, despite the tiny size of my apartment.   Living on a shoestring meant that I had to start with a very small tree.   I promised myself to buy a bigger one each year, until I could afford a big one, in the 6 foot + range.  And that’s exactly what I did!

Tree in my building in NYC!

Tree in my building in NYC!

Now, I live in a building in NYC that celebrates Christmas with a giant tree that delights all of us.  I still buy my own tree, but the ones they display surpass any height of an indoor tree that I’ve seen.  It’s just delightful to come home to it every evening during December.  We also have evenings with music and champagne!  It always inspires me to go out and take notice of all the trees in the city and wherever I go, during December.

It’s a great way to celebrate Christmas coming with “A Table For One!”

Copyright 2015 Marion M. O’Grady