First published in the Dec. 31 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader
Although you may be experiencing your fill of Christmas music by now, there is no disputing that one of the most beloved songs of the season is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which was penned by the songwriting team of Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the 1944 MGM musical “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
Judy Garland, in the role of Ester, sings the song to her little sister on Christmas Eve in an attempt to cheer her up over the family’s pending move to New York that neither of them are looking forward to.
While those well-known lyrics, which mention the gathering of dear and faithful friends and the hope that the fates will allow those gatherings to continue, were written three-quarters of a century before the outbreak of COVID-19, they seem to have a more powerful relevance now that we are all too well aware those damn fates are not always on our side.
That sentiment was more than prevalent during the holiday gatherings and parties that saw Burbankers come together over the past few weeks. Rare was the soiree at which many holiday revelers didn’t pass a comment about how wonderful it was that everyone could be together this year.
The numerous local festivities were kicked-off with an event dubbed “Sip and Shop” and hosted by Anet Abnous and Lusine Simonyan-Hacobian, who are the co-founders of the Lusanet Collective in downtown Burbank.
A retail center for fine art, designer jewelry and fashion, the collective, which opened this past summer, serves as a creative hub to bring photographers, artists and designers together to network, exhibit and sell their work and wares.
The brainchild of Abnous and Simonyan-Hacobian, entrepreneurs and artists, respectively from Iran and Armenia who now call Burbank their home, gave holiday shoppers a rare opportunity to not just peruse one-of-a-kind gifts, but to also meet the artists and designers who created them.
The “Sip and Shop” champagne reception launched a weeklong fundraiser that saw a percentage of every sale benefit the Zonta Club of Burbank whose mission is to empower women through service and advocacy.
Along with the founders and owners of companies including Shine in Beauty, the Anahit Company, ARY D’PO, Casanoi, and Handmade Hunters, the day also gave the sipping shoppers the chance to meet artists, fashion designers and photographer including Alena Probst.
A Zontain herself, Probst is a magnificent photographer when she isn’t working on the mission architecture and trajectory design of planetary entry probes to the outer planets and the exploration of the solar system using robotic spacecraft in her day job as a space engineer and NASA postdoctoral Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Among those who enjoyed the event were numerous local Zontains including Becky Gimple, Gloria Salas, Lynn Lipinski and former Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy who, throughout the month of December staged 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a part of a global campaign led by the Center For Women’s Global Leadership.
With the season’s celebrations beginning at the Lusanet Collective, they wrapped up at the Burbank’s Hilton Garden Inn as the Burbank Chamber of Commerce held a holiday mixer to benefit their on-going toy drive for children whose families are a part of the Home Again Los Angeles program.
Hosted by the hotel’s general manager Carol Nunez, her staff and Jamie Keyser Thomas and Leslie Smith, who respectfully serve as the chamber’s CEO and membership services director, the gathering brought together numerous representatives of the local business community, chamber board members and ambassadors, and Councilwomen Tamala Takahashi and Zizette Mullins.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by VocArte, a Burbank-based acapella choir under the direction of Tom Pease who, among their repertoire wished everyone a merry little Christmas by musically reminding the gathering that: “Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore.”
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.