Pine soul

Kid stories, ageless and evergreen! Sue Toft of East Aurora has a classic. It happened 30 years ago, but people still ask her to tell it, and now that we have heard it, we can see why.

One picturesque Sunday in December, Toft and her husband were driving home from Baker Memorial Methodist Church, with their son, John, then 3 years old, in the back seat. They passed people heading home with Christmas trees tied to the roofs of their cars. John was observing alertly – perhaps pining for one, worried his parents, who always had an artificial tree because of allergies. But as Sue says, you never know what kids are thinking.

Suddenly, John piped up. “Mom, Dad,” he said, “someday can we take our Christmas tree out for a ride, too?”

Miracle on 99th Street

You know that glow you see coming from Niagara Falls? It's not a casino, Clifton Hill, or the star in the East. It's a block of 99th Street lit up for Christmas to such an extent that, it is whispered, it is visible from outer space. Marvels a neighbor: “It is always daylight there.”

One North Buffalo house – we will have to run pictures on the Buzz Blog – is a delightful scramble with not only a Nativity scene, but Santa and candy canes lining the front walk. Buzz loves it. A friend, however, cautions there should be limits. She says: “You don't have a Santa offering a gift with the Wise Men, or a polar bear holding a menorah. I'm sorry.”

Laughs @ the Lafayette

Brunch at big, bright Butterwood Desserts, the newest treat at the Hotel @ the Lafayette, made Buzz think how lucky we are. Parking on Court Street: free on Sundays. Breakfast called “The Hangover” (scrambled eggs with mushrooms and Bloody Mary spread – and “a side shooter of carrot juice”): $12. Being able to say: “Well, I used to go here when it was a welfare hotel...”: Priceless! And as a historic preservationist, we appreciate how the spirit of that old welfare hotel has not been completely eradicated. In the ladies room, we beheld seamy posters for the Lafayette's New Year's Eve party. It's like James Bond minus the elegance: a woman standing spread-eagled, showing her behind, a guy with a gun, pictures of car chases, hyping of casino gaming, etc. New Lafayette, meet Old Lafayette. Cheers!

The buzz

The Penzey's Spices catalog has a recipe for Enlightened Pork Loin. Is this what's called making a silk purse out of a sow's rear? ... Season O'Sipping: The bar at Kleinhans Music Hall is pouring yummy pink Poinsettias, with champagne and cranberry juice. And the Polish Villa II, in Cheektowaga, has just unveiled its Mojito-ski. It's vodka, dill, cucumber and we forget what else, but after drinking half of one, we spoke Polish. Na zdrowie!


“I fly out, the kids go wild. It's like I'm the Beatles in 1967.”

– Gary Marino, as Drosselmeyer in “The Nutcracker,” last weekend at UB's Center for the Arts