News of the Week: Hello 2019, Goodbye Rockefeller Tree, and Here’s Why You Should Write Thank You Notes

In the news for the last week of 2018 Bob Sassone covers the fate of the Rockefeller Christmas tree, a New Year’s resolution we should all make, a milestone for a great picture, and more.

New Year's Eve celebration in New York City

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New Year’s Resolutions

Happy Friday! Hope you had a great Christmas.

It’s amazing how quickly Christmas is over, isn’t it? Or maybe you still have that feeling today. It was an odd holiday on my end. No celebration, no big dinner (because of work commitments and geography, my family is having Christmas in January), and the only Christmas decorations in my apartment were the festive patterns on the holiday boxes of Kleenex tissues on the coffee table. I received only five Christmas cards this year, SiriusXM got rid of several of their holiday channels the day after Christmas, and my supermarket has already stocked the shelves with Valentine’s Day candy, right next to the Santa-shaped chocolates and tree-shaped peanut butter cups. Christmas is over! Stop celebrating! No-mo-ho-ho-ho!

So it’s on to 2019 and New Year’s resolutions. Don’t freak out! You don’t have to resolve to lose 50 pounds by March or move to another city or bring about world peace. You can make smaller resolutions so it feels like you’ve accomplished something. Resolve to clean out the attic. Resolve to keep a journal. Resolve to floss more. Resolve to eat nothing but dill pickles on Tuesdays. I don’t know why you’d choose that last one, but anything’s possible in 2019. It’s an exciting new year!

If you don’t mind telling everyone, what are your resolutions?

Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree

Have you ever wondered what happens to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree when Christmas is over? Of course not. You’re too busy during the holidays to think of such a thing. The tree comes down at 9 p.m. on January 7, and for the past 12 years, Habitat for Humanity has been using parts of the tree to make one of their houses. So not only does someone get a new home, they get to say that, in a way, they live inside the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.


On Christmas Eve 1968, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders piloted Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon and come back. On that trip, Anders took one of the most famous photographs in history.

Thank You

I mentioned resolutions above. If you’re looking for a change in 2019, here’s a resolution that will not only benefit you but also friends and family: write more thank you notes.

Maybe “more” means “any” to you, because you haven’t written a thank you note since the invention of email because it takes time and you have to go to a mailbox and you might even get a paper cut. But honestly, sending a handwritten thank you note to someone — maybe someone who gave you a nice Christmas gift or wrote you a great reference for that new job or helped you with a problem — will really make an impact. People don’t print out thank you emails or texts and put them on their desk or bulletin board, but if they get a thank you card or a letter in the mail, it will be a shock and they’ll keep it forever.

With a new year about to begin, it can’t be a coincidence that on Christmas Eve, both Miss Manners and Dear Abby told their readers to write thank you notes. And now I’m telling you too (and thank you).

RIP Donald Moffat, Audrey Geisel, and Joe Osborn

Donald Moffat was a veteran actor who appeared in a ton of movies you’ve seen, including The Right Stuff, Clear and Present Danger, Earthquake, and the John Carpenter remake of The Thing, as well as TV shows like The West Wing, Logan’s Run, One Life to Live, Dallas, and Bull. He was also an acclaimed stage actor. He died last week at the age of 87.

Audrey Geisel was the widow of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. She oversaw his estate and produced many of the adaptations of his work, including the new animated feature film The Grinch. She died last week at the age of 97.

Here’s an interview the Post did with Theodor Geisel just after the publication of The Cat in the Hat and before How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Joe Osborn was a bassist for The Wrecking Crew, the group of session musicians who played on many classic songs over several decades. That’s Osborn you hear on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water,” Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man,” and “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas. He played with everyone from The Carpenters and Johnny Rivers to Barbra Streisand and Jimmy Buffett. He died earlier this month at the age of 81.

This Week in History

“Silent Night” Debuts (December 24, 1818)

Yup, the song actually did premiere on Christmas Eve.

Radio City Music Hall Opens (December 27, 1932)

If you’ve always wanted to see the annual Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall featuring The Rockettes, you’re in luck. The production has been extended through January 6.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Alka-Seltzer ad (December 27, 1958)

Alka-Seltzer magazine ad

Sure, the ad says it’s for colds, but you might want to keep some on hand if you have too many…

…New Year’s Eve Cocktails!

Does anyone really have a good time going out on New Year’s Eve? It’s crowded, it’s cold, and in general it’s an over-hyped holiday. The best thing you can do is just stay in, whether it’s with your family, hosting a small party, or alone, eating something you really like in peace and quiet, maybe enjoying a cocktail or two. You could pop the champagne at midnight when the Times Square ball, a hog, or a giant doughnut is dropped, or you could try one of these cocktails.

You can Set the New Year on Fire, or fool yourself that you’re drinking something medicinal with a Hot Penicillin. If you want to go the classic route, you could have a Negroni, an Old Fashioned, or a Manhattan. And even though it’s about to be 2019, you could go back in time and have a Twentieth Century.

My New Year’s resolution is to drink more alcohol. I think I’m going to start right now.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

New Year’s Day (January 1)

This is the day to sleep off that hangover, watch some TV marathons such as The Twilight Zone on Syfy or The Office on Cozi-TV, or watch some college bowl games. There are several games this week and next, actually, and they have some really odd names now: the Bounty Tissue Bowl, the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, the Camping World Bowl, the RedBox Bowl, and the Cheez-It Bowl.

Only one of those is made up, and I bet you can’t guess which.

National Trivia Day (January 4)

Here’s a TV and movie trivia question: What did Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files, Jamie Sommers of The Bionic Woman, and the Ghostbusters gang have in common? They all had the same telephone number.

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  1. Thank YOU Bob Taylor for your compliment, and pointing out that the ‘captain’ in the vintage Alka Seltzer ad is the one and only Buster Keaton. My bad for not noticing. I want one of your new year’s resolutions to be putting in comments on this wonderful column each week, like I do.

    As Coca-Cola used to say (as the original) “it’s the real thing.” Bob’s the king, and his column should be returned to its crown position as the lead article over the weekend on this site, hopefully soon! Randall, because of you, I looked up and watched several wonderful commercials with Buster Keaton. They made me smile too.

  2. I was really surprised that the 200th anniversary of the first performance of “Silent Night” got hardly any press. It is supposed to be the most beloved Christmas song (religious or secular) of all time but the anniversary just passed by.

    So glad that the great Buster Keaton was “rediscovered” by the television generation. Even commercials for Alka Seltzer with Buster in them make me smile.

  3. I agree with the always interesting Mr McGowan about the frequency of this column. I, too, always enjoy it.

    No one pointed it out, but that is the supernal Buster Keaton in the Alka Seltzer ad.

    My new year’s resolution is to refuse to be hypnotized by this phone. The problem is not the several hours a day I spend online, because I spend it on worthwhile or deeply entertaining things. The problem comes when, having gone through those things, I sit, staring at the screen, desperate to find more. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten everything else in life.

    Which, I understand, is exactly the goal of thousands of psychologists, designers, and engineers in Silicon Valley.

  4. I resolve to make more time with less time on my hands to really delve into The Saturday Evening Post’s archives starting with 1824 which is where I’m at now. Well, it’s something. The 20th century’s going to probably take until ’22 or longer to complete; probably longer.

    Thanks for including the link on handwritten letters, including thank you cards/notes. It’s a great article, with comments to match. naturally. The fact SO few people do this anymore is ALL THE MORE reason to do so. Same thing with being well groomed. You stand out from the masses that are basically classless asses today, Bob.

    On the New Years Eve Cocktail paragraph, you summed it up perfectly in the first sentence. Been there, done that. It’s played-out and not worth it. As far as drinking more booze in Twenty Nineteen goes, just use your good judgement. I don’t drink/care for booze, but put in my two cents anyway. Why stop now?

    Thank you for another year of interesting, fun, overlooked and thought provoking ‘News’ features as 2018 ends. I would like to see this column highlighted longer among the main articles once again however, as it was until fairly recently.

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