Some people like a small town for the holidays. Their dream city looks like Bedford Falls out of It’s A Wonderful Life, a charming scene reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell print. For me, New York City conjures up Christmas magic. When I was a child, I watched Miracle on 34th Street over and over. I dreamed of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with its larger-than-life balloons and Santa commandeering nine reindeer. I imagined eating roasted chestnuts, riding in a horse-drawn carriage through a snow-covered Central Park, ice-skating in the middle of town, drinking hot chocolate in a ritzy café, gazing at shop windows on 5th Avenue, watching dancers perform The Nutcracker, and admiring the huge tree in Rockefeller Center.
Later, other movies would add to my vision—Home Alone, Elf, even Scrooged, but Miracle on 34th Street defined Christmas for me. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit New York City around the holidays. It was as perfect as I imagined.
During December, New York becomes a wonderland of twinkling lights and fragrant evergreens. Trees, wreaths, and garland adorn the lobbies of most buildings. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art there is even a cherubic tree decorated with angels. Gigantic wreaths hang off Grand Central Station. Aromas wafting off carts and steam from roasted chestnuts and other goodies create a cozy atmosphere and take the chill out of the air. Grandly-dressed bell hops hold doors wide open for tired shoppers. Tiffany’s department store lures customers in with elegant windows designed with towering trees and smartly-wrapped gifts. It’s worth stopping by just to be able to sport one of their signature blue shopping bags on your arm filled with boxes tied neatly with bright white ribbon. Other 5th Avenue shopkeepers court customers with fabulous windows designed in jewel tones. Window designers dream up fairy tale scenes to inspire and delight. Each window is more sumptuous and magical than the last. Automatons swirl around. Cinderella loses her glass slipper only to find Prince Charming holding it for her. Reindeer prance and Santa laughs jollily. Nutcracker soldiers march and sugarplum fairies dance. Toy planes soar through the air.
New York is a winter wonderland…a vision…a place where dreams come true and the story ends with happily ever after. It welcomes visitors with class and elegance. The city itself seems softer in December—brass gleams a little brighter, lights glow more softly, and the music is more melodic. People smile at strangers wishing good will to all.
New York City in December reinforces my belief in miracles. It brings me a childlike sense of wonder. I may find a partridge in a pear tree or two turtle doves. As I gaze at the towering pine tree in Rockefeller Center, magic swirls around me. Ten lords leap through the air while nine ladies dance. I swear I hear pipers piping and drummers drumming. I stand agape at all the wonders surrounding me. In the midst of one of the most chaotic, populated cities on Earth, I’m peacefully, blissfully living in a winter fairy tale.
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