When Santa Rinpoche Came to Town

by Lavinia Spalding. Posted Dec 20th 2013 10:30 AM
Dolly Spalding

When I was young, I was a stickler for Christmas traditions. If my father forgot to wear the Santa Claus hat, I pouted. If we didn't watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," I cried. If hot cocoa wasn't served with breakfast, I was capable of a four-star conniption. Dinner was roast goose or Yorkshire pudding -- any substitutions and I about lost my mind.

By all accounts, I wasn't actually a difficult child, but when I was 10 we moved from New Hampshire to Arizona, and I didn't adjust well. I missed our farmhouse and my friends, and I clung to these annual rituals because they made our new house feel like a home. And then I continued clinging, for 20 more years, until the Christmas I learned to let go.
Continue Reading

Christmas in Cappadocia

by Sean McLachlan. Posted Dec 20th 2013 10:30 AM
Winter - Cappadocia, Turkey
Zafer Yazici, Flickr

I used to hate Christmas.

Christmas was not a happy time in the McLachlan household. A holiday that emphasized the joys of family did not go over well with a group of people who couldn't stand each other. Gifts were grudgingly given and indifferently received. The turkey was consumed in edgy silence. The worst of it all was that everyone was expected to paste on smiles and pretend they were having a great time.

That all changed when I spent my first Christmas away from home, in 1993. I had just started a year crossing Asia, and mid-December found me in Cappadocia, Turkey.
Continue Reading

7 Remote Spots to Completely Escape the Holiday Madness

by Anna Brones. Posted Dec 17th 2013 01:31 PM
Tree house in snow
You just can't bear the idea of another stressful holiday season, with out-of-town in-laws overstaying their welcome and ugly sweater parties. So what's your best option? Cut out of town and escape civilization entirely.

Nothing's better for avoiding this time of year than holing up in the middle of nowhere where you can't be reached. So look no further than these seven spots.
Continue Reading

Discover Something New at Home in Atlanta

by Jennifer Bradley Franklin. Posted Dec 17th 2013 11:00 AM
Atlanta skyline at sunset
© 2013, James Duckworth/
Atlanta continues to live up to its reputation of having Southern hospitality to spare. This year the city became the backdrop for "The Hunger Games," "Anchorman 2" and "The Walking Dead," made national news when one honest homeless man returned a tourist's lost wallet and ushered in warm feelings with the July birth of twin pandas at Zoo Atlanta. If you're coming home this holiday season after some time away, prepare to be charmed
Continue Reading

Discover Something New at Home in Pittsburgh

by Stephanie Butler. Posted Dec 17th 2013 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh bridges night
Carmine Sarazen/VisitPittsburgh
With vibrant festivals, whimsical public art and an uplifting baseball season, "Steel(ers) City" has outgrown its moniker. A 40-foot-tall rubber duck delighted Pittsburghers as it floated down the Ohio River as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts in September. The economy is changing, too, as a lively community of entrepreneurs founds start-ups throughout the city.
Continue Reading