Christmas in NYC: A Most Wonderful Place to Be!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Christmas Eve at 30 Rock

Christmas Eve at 30 Rock

Say what you will about the commercialization of Christmas.  One trip to New York City in the month of December is all it takes to wash away such feelings of cynicism and contempt.  Granted, the average tourist might not come out of the many upscale boutiques and shops with an armful of goods, but that certainly doesn’t stop the awashed mass of tourists from enjoying the ambiance of the greatest city in the world during the most wonderful time of the year!

There are many traditions during this time of the year that I love very much: old timey Christmas specials (as cheesy as they are, I love’em), Christmas cookies, snow, decorations, being with family and friends, and every heirloom ornament on my family’s Christmas tree.  But some things you just don’t outgrow, and opening presents on Christmas morning just never gets old!  And odds are, the most expensive gifts come from New York’s opulent Fifth Avenue.  Iconic retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman, Salvatore Ferragamo, and F.A.O. Schwartz are all the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to high-end shopping in the Big Apple.  During the holiday season, however, these stores go out of their way to showcase their best stuff with a little bit of Christmas magic to boot.  And by the way, I don’t care if that sounds kinda corny!  Shopping on Fifth Avenue is just more fun when there’s tinsel and garlent in the windows.

As I pop my head out of the 5th Avenue/53rd Street station, the familiar sight of expensive storefronts just awaits.  But they just look nicer this time of year.  Saks Fifth Avenue, a store that I’m not that crazy about (unless I happen to be my mom!), looks amazing with its lit up windows.  Bergdorf Goodman ups the ante with dioramas.  Back in 2009, to promote the Wes Anderson version of Roald Dahl’s classic, Fantastic Mr. Fox, the store windows came complete with cute tableaus which depicted scenes from the movie.  A unsurprising choice considering the wardrobe worn by the anthropomorphic characters; they all look like they just grew opposable thumbs and walked out of a department store looking their Sunday best.  Not to mention they looked adorable!  What isn’t adorable are the high prices within Bergdorf’s walls; I once found a lovely red Scottish knit-cap for over $150!

"Celebrate the holidays with the Fantastic Mr. Fox!"

“Celebrate the holidays with the Fantastic Mr. Fox!”

Where Fantastic Mr. Fox goes clothes shopping!

Where Fantastic Mr. Fox goes clothes shopping!

You can’t talk about Christmas in NYC without stepping inside the crown jewel of Fifth Avenue: F.A.O. Schwartz!  I don’t care how old you are; NO ONE can ever outgrow this high-priced wonderland of trinkets and huggable friends that does more than anyone to bring your inner-child to life!  Sadly, over the years, the inner workings of FAO have changed quite dramatically.  No longer do denizens of the store hear the melodic strains of “Welcome to Our World of Toys”, the unofficial anthem of this larger-than-life toyland.  Basically, what we saw in the 1988 movie Big, is now nothing but a distant memory.  No musical keyboard?  No board games stacked to the ceiling?  No Tom Hanks dueting with Robert Loggia?!  Unacceptable!  Maybe, and consider this: maybe the store didn’t change, but we just grew up?  It is one of the most bittersweet realizations one must confront when it is Christmas and you realize that you are no longer a child.  On the other hand, maybe the problem is that FAO stopped selling the toys that I grew up with.  Gone are the bountiful, beautiful boxes of Brio wooden trains, board games, electric trains, and remote-control cars.  The only toys still intact are the rows and rows of stuffed animals and lego sets.  I drop hundreds on a three-foot tall stuffed kangaroo, but I just can’t buy back my childhood.  Thank God for eBay and Amazon.com, though.

Another icon of Christmas in NYC is Macy’s in Herald Square.  Just a short distance from Penn Station and Times Square, Macy’s has been, for decades, a beacon of the holidays in NYC.  Well, to be more accurate, a beacon of American capitalism and consumerism.  After all, when you’re the department store that sponsors a massive parade on Thanksgiving with the biggest balloons this side of a festival in Albequerque, you sort of embrace the fact that you are commercialism incarnate.  Sure, the windows and decorations are a haven for shoppers, and they do look eye-catching during this time of year.  I know that Macy’s has as much to do with Christmas as the Easter Bunny has to do with Mother’s Day.  But rather than get into a pointless argument about the commercialization of Christmas, I think we can all agree that we have grown up with Macy’s during Christmas; it is practically in our subconscious, sharing rent space with sugarplums and Santa.  The elegant decorations and lavish commercials are just as much a part of the season as cozying up with relatives in front of a roaring fire while watching It’s a Wonderful Life.  Tis the season to not care about such paltry dilemmas like the commercialization of Christmas and just be merry!

"Believe...In Macy's!"

“Believe…In Macy’s!”

All things lead back to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the centerpiece of Christmas in NYC.  The Christmas Tree at 30 Rock has earned its place in the pantheon of New York landmarks right up there with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the NYC Subway system.  It’s just so big and so beautiful; it’s nice to see colored lights in NYC on something that isn’t a Times Square sign.  Whenever I see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, I think of two things:

One is any Christmas episode of 30 Rock.  Any Christmas episode always starts off with the iconic tree before we smash cut to the complete craziness inside the GE Building.  Whether its Tracy and Frank celebrating Ludachristmas, Kenneth forcing everyone to exchange gifts, Donaghy trying so hard to impress his mother, Hornberger trying to avoid work, or Liz Lemon hopelessly trying to avoid the pressure of the holidays, you just can’t imagine Christmas in NYC without the looney denizens of Rockefeller Center!  Second is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.  After Kevin McCallister heroically lays waste to the Sticky Bandits themselves, he is happily reunited with his mother in front of the iconic tree in one of the most mushy moments ever committed to celluloid.  Maybe it was the fact that he barely avoided death at the hands of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.  Maybe it was the fact that he and his massive family scored a free stay at The Plaza with an avalanche of free presents.  Whatever it was, it remains a great scene that always puts me in the mood for Christmas.  That, plus it makes me envious of spending Christmas at The Plaza Hotel under a massive Christmas tree in an ocean of presents!

You just can’t beat the feel of New York City during the holiday season.  To hell with all the commercialized distractions and banter.  And to hell with all the tourists, crowds, and unfunny cliches that distract from all the positive wonderfulness that makes this time of year so special!  If you haven’t been to Rockefeller Center, please go!  Even if it is brimming with camera-happy shutterbugs from Iowa and Wisconsin, it is still a wonderful place to be!  And wait till you see 30 Rock during Easter…

Rabbits at Christmastime?  Easter came rather early!

Rabbits at Christmastime?  Easter came rather early!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

"Merry Christmas!"

“Merry Christmas!”


About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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One Response to Christmas in NYC: A Most Wonderful Place to Be!

  1. Paul Condon says:

    Thanks Jared for a wonderful insight to your Christmas
    You never fail to deliver
    Great pictures too
    Regards Paul

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