|Rockefeller Center at Christmas–credit|
Do New Yorkers take advantage of the magic of the city at Christmastime? If you’re asking a tourist, the answer may be “No, not really.” Growing up in Connecticut, I looked forward to spending a winter Saturday in New York doing “touristy things” for Christmas. Like thousands of others, my family came to NYC with precise intentions, a non-negotiable itinerary, ugly sneakers, and expectations to leave fulfilled and inspired.
Our day trips entailed walking from Grand Central to The Shops at Bryant Park, eating cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery, taking pictures of The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and watching the ice skaters below. We’d eat a mediocre dinner in Midtown before sprinting back to 42nd Street in time to catch the train back to “the burbs,” also known as “Orange,” where I grew up.. It all seemed so… “Christmasy!”
|The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is a must-see for tourists–credit|
But now, I’m living in New York City for the first time, and suddenly, I’m not as interested in all of the aforementioned tourist activities. Incidentally, this year when my mother asked if I had made my rounds to our traditional holiday destinations, I realized that NYC offers two entirely different Christmas experiences. It’s amazing what I can experience when I’m not in a rush to experience anything at all. This may be the true New York Christmas.
New Yorkers may not get tickets to see The Radio City Christmas Spectacular or wait in line to see Santa at Macy’s every year because the majority of New Yorkers hate crowds. While the big Christmas tree will always be magical to me, it’s hard to look past the imminent chaos I’d have to endure to get close enough to the tree for a tourist to hand me their camera. I actually feel more overwhelmed by sightseers this year as a resident than I ever did as a tourist.
Experiencing Christmas in New York truly is what you choose to make of it. My morning routine has been full of Christmas since I decorated my bedroom with paper snowflakes, a bright red Poinsettia plant from Lexington Farm Deli, and a pom-pom strung dwarf spruce tree from SoHo Garden.
On the streets I hear Christmas music playing from anywhere and everywhere —“Drummer Boy” rings from the street lights. I walk past Elizabeth Street Gallery garden in SoHo on my way to Gimme! Coffee for a soothing peppermint mocha. I can only dream how picturesque the garden will be when the statues are covered in snow.
This Thursday will be Christmas night out in SoHo with my work friends. It’s barely a week into December, but it’s never too early to indulge in the holiday spirit. After we learn how to make present wrapping beautiful in Paper Source’s Wrapture Workshop on Spring Street, we’ll head over to Vosges for a cup of their life-changing Aztec Elixir Hot Chocolate. (I can already taste the chilies and cinnamon!) Once we’re all warmed up, we will walk into Little Italy for some rainbow layers and Pignoli Cookies at Ferrera.
There’s no blueprint for how to enjoy the month of December, and that’s what makes New York such a treat at Christmas. Shopping for gifts is as easy as walking into Crate & Barrel and buying a grapefruit knife for my boyfriend (creative stocking stuffer!), the decorating book from Jonathan Adler for my sister, popping by one of the street vendors on practically every corner, or the weekend flea markets in Brooklyn and on the Upper West Side. Sure there will be crowds, but I don’t have to tolerate mall traffic or parking lot frustration, and I can easily retreat to my Upper East Side apartment for peace and quiet
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Life goes on around us every day in the Big Apple, no matter the season, but this well-known phrase could apply to New York City at Christmastime.
You can definitely see the NYC holiday hoopla in a single day in December if you’re visiting Manhattan. But as for the eight million people who live in the city? Well, let’s just say their interpretation of the year-end holidays is an accumulation of life every single day throughout the season. What could be more magical than that?