New York City is one of the great harbingers of the magical Christmas spirit. From the moment the Rockefeller Christmas tree is set ablaze the city swirls with a dreamy energy whisked by brisk winter winds whipping down long deep canyons of steel and stone. It spins bodies on ice skates like tops. It dances with sparkling flakes of snow, which add the final touches to remarkably unreal window displays. It infects the soul and knows no immunity.
Bah Humbug! For the last decade and a half I’ve found myself, shoulders slumped, head back and eyes rolling for the better part of the month of December. After a couple of consecutively bad holidays I was most inclined to simply fast forward through the month and try to treat it as a continuation of November – business as usual. This is also when Halloween, recognizing the void, swept in and became my lone favorite holiday as if happy to stamp out the childhood cheer.
But of course the reality is that Christmas is inevitable, unavoidable and, frankly, right up in your face for a good four weeks no matter how apathetic my efforts in participation. Now it’s not that I disliked Christmas. I simply saw it as a nuisance and, in the cruel realities of adulthood, harbored almost no delusions of innocence of its magic.
However, something has happened very recently. I’ve actually grown more tolerant of the season. It all began during a business trip to New York in December of 2010. When the days were at their shortest and the darkness bore heavy on motivation I managed to wander from my Grand Central hotel to join the pilgrimage to Rockefeller Center. The dark narrow streets became alive and vibrant. We gathered above the blur of twirling ice skaters, took photos under the sparkling 60 foot Norway Spruce and gawked at playful children and adults alike through the windows of the Lego store. Drifting twinkle-eyed up 5th Avenue I stood in line to view the ostentatious window displays – Sach’s, Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman. A biting chill was in the air and the brisk wind wafted unfamiliar smells around my face. I had discovered that chestnut roasting is an actual active practice and not only relegated to dated songs of yore.
Eventually, against all my predispositions, I somehow found myself at FAO Schwartz squeezing through a gauntlet of fluff and fur and braving potential disfiguring knee-capping by fly-by children. I’d come to find a plush novelty souvenir for my three month old daughter. The miraculous thing is that not only did I not feel like clothes-lining little Timmy Mischief but I actually kinda enjoyed the chaotic exuberance. This may be the clue to the apparent revival of my holiday spirit. Could it be that having a child of my own has rekindled some of the magic and mystery of the Christmas season? Could she, aided by the magnificence of Christmas in New York, actually rid my brain of spiders and remove the garlic from my soul?
Well let’s just say my radio isn’t set to the local 24 hour Christmas music station, I haven’t replaced my stocking cap with a Santa hat and I don’t have a wreath hanging from the grill of my Ford. But since my first encounter with New York’s Christmas cheer it is possible that my heart has grown a size.