Just as well Christmas started early in New York, otherwise I would have missed my favorite part of the festivities – anticipation! With the Vegas job keeping us out of town for most of December, it was opportune that the city started dressing for Christmas well in advance. Macy’s was well baubled from Halloween, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree went up at the end of November when Obama was in town and the Salvation Army have been energizing the crowds with their rock and roll carols since Thanksgiving. ( They took credit cards this year! )
If there is one thing I really love about Christmas in New York, it’s the atmosphere at the markets. Even though the farmers have less produce to offer, there is an abundance of hot apple cider and the spicy cinnamon aromas mixed with the smell of freshly cut pine trees make for a real festive fix. We stopped off at Union Square to share the quest of people choosing their Christmas trees and having them trimmed and tied for the journey home. You could buy prebundled real trees from street side vendors all over the city, but at Union Square it was a delight to see people pausing and measuring up the type and the size of the tree, or, in giving in to the size of their apartment, opting for a sprig for the front door instead. According to the Australian guy helping out with the transactions, these trees do not shed their needles, so they stay intact throughout the season, until they are collected by the Central Park trucks and mulched for the sake of tucking in those that shine less bright for longer.
Father Christmas was also on the move early this season, being spotted on the subway, trying to catch cabs and even trying to balance on my bicycle. But despite the craziness of all the Santas, the sparkle of decorations and the allure of shop windows, my absolute favorite part of Christmas this year happened in the middle of the night. We flew in from Vegas at about 10pm on Christmas Eve, exhausted but so happy to be back in the big apple. The city was quiet, and there was no-one on the street apart from cabs. Just as we were about to drift off to sleep at midnight, the church bells on Park Avenue started to chime with ‘Joy to the World’. I felt as though the city was welcoming us home and sharing a special secret moment. It suddenly felt like Christmas !