The last time I was in New York City was in September 1985 and the last time I lived in New York City was 1969. I don't see myself ever going back but there are certain times, certain memories I have of life in the city that will never go away and they all revolve around Christmas time, the week before, the day of and the week after. No where in any city of the world is there the combination of magic in New York City especially if there are snow flurries or, maybe, an inch of snow blanketing the city and turning the lights into diamonds in the evening.
I still feel the cold nipping at my ears, my nose being red and my being on my butt more than on my feet, not to mention my mittens NOT keeping my hands warm but the wonder of ice skating in the Rockefeller Center, in the middle of Manhattan, under the glow and warmth of one of the tallest decorated Christmas (not holiday!!) trees standing in the shadow of one of New York's most impressive buildings not to forget on the opposite side rows and rows of uncountable poinsettia plants. You are surrounded by people looking down at you from atop the perimeter of the rink plus all the people eating and drinking inside the restaurant that the rink is in the middle of and which you can't wait to get a table, have a hot chocolate and look at the skaters falling on their butts and/or those gracefully doing spin after spin and all enjoying themselves as much as you did.
There is the afternoon you wait on line with thousands of other people to get into the cavernous and awe inspiring Radio City Music Hall where you not only saw a movie like Doris Day in "I'll See You In My Dreams" but an even more awe inspiring stage show where there is the Christmas pageant featuring live camels, the Wise Men, a live reenactment of the Nativity that doesn't fail to affect people of all religions or none at all. That is then followed by the amazing Rockettes who go from being wooden play soldiers to rocking to Jingle Bells and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.
There is so much to do so what do you do next? Maybe buy a bag of roasted chestnuts and walk along Fifth Avenue looking in the store windows all decorated with to die for fashions and jewels? Oh, I know, I remember, walk down to Herald Square (I was able to walk in those days) where Macy's and Bloomingdale's try to outdo each other with season decorations and you relive "The Miracle on 34th Street" or wait, wouldn't it be better to walk along Lexington and Madison avenues where you can buy flowers from outside stalls and look at the Christmas trees for sale while the cold goes through you and you stop for another hot chocolate? Hey we can go to the New Hampshire bar on 57th Street and watch a 'Northeasterner' recreated behind the bar and stop by Carnegie Hall and see what/who is playing.
It's early evening and it is still light enough to walk in Central Park where the snow covers the din of the city and makes everything feel pure, soft and, yes, Christmas like. It's magic time in a city that at times can be cruel, unfeeling and devoid of magic but for two weeks in late December it is as if Tinkerbell cast her spell and fairy dust over the city and its people. It is two weeks that EVERYONE should experience at least once in their lifetime and I was lucky to experience it many times as I reached adult hood.
Don't even get me started about experiencing falling in love for the first time during Christmas in New York---oh, get me started--let's talk about going to the Plaza for a drink, having dinner in the middle of Central Park, taking a carriage ride--let's talk about it in Part 3.