Faith, family, peace, goodwill and good deeds—just a few phrases to start off the new year, along, of course, with your resolutions. Always starting the new year off is the last major event of the old year. The 2017 Comus Ball lived up to its reputation as being the big daddy of galas. This year, along with the invitation was a special note card stating ladies had to wear floor-length ballgowns. Anyone wearing a mini would be turned away at the door, making the ballgown tradition mandatory. How else do you keep a tradition but to add a “you’d better or else” clause? The women beautifully adorned beside the men in tuxedos (no business suits allowed), guess danced and made merry to the spectacular sounds of Dan Anderson and the Versatiles.

Remember Doug E. Fresh’s Chicken and Waffle restaurant? Well it is back in all its glory. No, not Doug E. Fresh (who we love dearly) and not the chicken and waffles. The 133rd Street venue has been taken over by Ponty restaurant owner and is now formally known as Renaissance Restaurant. The menu is extensive, food is outstanding, décor is luxurious and prices are reasonable. If you love Ponty Bistro, and I know you do, then treat yourself to a night of dining at Renaissance.

“Access, opportunity, excellence,” another phrase worth contemplating, is the message put forth by Dance Theatre of Harlem, welcoming all aspiring classical dancers to audition for the spring 2018 program. The audition takes place Sunday, Jan. 7 at the school, located on West 152nd Street. Visit the website for advance registration.

The beginning of the year always makes me a bit nostalgic for the old year. Reflecting on family, friends and events I fondly remember make them seem as if they occurred another lifetime ago; hence, the importance of documenting everything either in written word or photos. I was the biggest fan of the disposable camera once available at CVS. On finishing a roll of film, you could simply take the camera back to CVS, where the pictures were developed in both a print and a compact disc version. That was great because I was able to post my prints in a photo album. I enjoyed filling the pages with photos that showed a chronological progression of my life as it unfolded, and I enjoyed looking back at the occasions even more.

I am now somewhat saddened that the photos stop at the same time as the demise of the disposable camera, leaving the gaps in years. I always promise myself that I am going to download my digital photos from my phone or camera, print them, and once again resume filling the pages of my album. I haven’t found the time, although it is always in the back of my mind to do so. You can imagine my joy at having discovered the print your photos machine at none other than CVS. I gave it a quick run and for 32 cents a print, I can begin printing my little heart out. My photo albums would be among the important documents I would grab if I had to leave my apartment immediately. I have an easily accessible envelope where I keep important papers such as marriage/birth certificates, passports and Social Security cards. The cell phones are always kept in the same place, so no searching there. The photo albums are all together, so with one scoop I have them all.

Presence of mind is very important during an emergency. During our recent stay in Philadelphia over the holidays, we opted to stay in an apartment rental. The reasonably priced apartment was less expensive than a hotel. Located right in the middle of Center City, it consisted of two bedrooms, two full baths and a full kitchen, with a washing machine and a dryer. The views from the ceiling to floor windows was spectacular and had all the conveniences of home, which means it had free Wi-Fi and a flat screen TV. However, Charles had left the apartment early one morning to meet his Philly friends for a game of racket ball, leaving Julia and me to sleep in. The buildings fire alarm went off. With lights in the apartment flashing, accompanied by a loud siren, an announcement coming from an invisible speaker in the wall instructed us to leave the building immediately. We jumped up out of bed, slipped into our shoes, grabbed our coats and headed immediately for the stairwell, down eight flights and out the door. Although I did grab the key and my pocketbook, after I closed the door, Julia reminded me that I didn’t have my phone. Not knowing what the real situation was, I told her we would just have to leave it. We couldn’t go back inside. Met at the front entrance by the Philadelphia Fire Department, we were assured that it was a false alarm and it was safe to return to our apartment.

Among the Christmas gifts I received this year were a box of Estee Lauder White Linen body powder, which I really wanted, a gift certificate to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and a $50 gift card. I told Charles that I wanted the body powder (one with a puff) from the Estee Lauder counter at Sak’s Fifth Avenue, but I didn’t tell him which brand. That should be of his own choosing, so I was happy with the selection. I specifically said from Sak’s because the store is so festive. It’s across from Rockefeller Center, so he and Julia could see the tree, and next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where perhaps they could light a candle in remembrance of all our dearly departed love ones. I was totally surprised by the gift certificate to the Kripalu Center. It is in Stockbridge, Mass. (my favorite state), and even though I am not into yoga, it offers so much more in terms of massages, peace, quiet and not having to clean the house and do the dishes. I am at a loss as to what to buy with my $50 gift card. I want to buy something special.

Until next week … kisses.