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It's Christmas Time In The City: A Holiday Lover's Dream

By Janet Walker

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It's Christmas time in the city; a time when glittering lights decorate every tree, hope is alive, unexpected holiday feelings move strangers into random acts of kindness and when the city lights up with multi-colored memories of Christmas past.

Festive Christmas trees at Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park.

Tourists and locals alike find time to stop as carefully crafted ornate displays draw the attention away from the daily breakneck speed and life slows down for just a moment and the whirlwind of the holiday season pauses. Most take some time during the maddening rush to visit all things Christmas in New York.

City sidewalks dressed in Holiday style.

Rockefeller Center is a holiday lover’s dream with wooden toy soldiers standing watch in the shadow of the tall buildings guarding the ice rink. The pathway leading to the centerpiece of Manhattan’s Christmas extravaganza, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, is lined with Angels heralding the Good News.  The tree is a 72 foot Norway spruce from Hamilton, New Jersey with over 30,000 blubs and is on display 24/7 until January 9, 2008.

Rockefeller Center's Christmas Tree.

The window designers  from Saks & Company to Macy’s Flagship at Herald Square have created a canvas of holiday masterpieces on view for the thousands of seasonal shoppers and throngs of tourists who flock to the city during the Christmas season. The magical touch of artistry that often goes unnoticed is predominately displayed with people waiting patiently to view the windows that at any other time are hurried past without notice.

Saks & Company, located on Fifth Avenue across from Rockefeller Center.

FAO Schwartz at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue and the Toy ‘R’ Us store located in Times Square bring to life any child’s holiday dream. From Barbie’s to Transformers and everything in between the flagship store offers it all and a whole lot more.

The Ferris Wheel inside the Toy's 'R' Us flagship store in Times Square.

For ice skaters, young and old, Manhattan has three ice rinks that are open to all. Bryant Park, in every season, offers a place to retreat for unusual sightings and happenings. The Pond, at Bryant Park, offers an indoor and outdoor café and a bazaar of upscale shops that provide gift ideas ranging from, Jim Henson’s, The Muppets  to an absolutely fabulous warm water hand treatment at Sabon, the aromatheraphy boutique that features exclusive products from Israel made from Dead Sea salts guaranteed to delight the senses, sooth the mind and refresh the body. 

Jim Henson's, The Muppet's bring happiness to any child.

The Pond, in winter, is an ice skaters paradise with fewer people and less crowds; a great rink for the beginner and novice skaters to test their shaky legs and new skates. Bring a friend to watch the kids, take some time to shop, and best of all the skating is FREE!

The Pond at Bryant Park offers free ice skating.

Rockefeller Center Rink is a tourist destination and with that the rink can, at times, be filled to capacity with time limits. Skaters beware. The novice and beginners may feel a bit paranoid with the amount of people and the fast speed as the experienced skaters perform simple feats that make the rest of us think of Olympic Gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi.

Rockefeller Center Ice skating rink.

Wollman Rink in Manhattan’s Central Park is also a Mecca for the ice skating lover. The rink is nestled in Central Park just far enough away form the tall buildings to see the stars fill the sky on a cold winter night. The rink, recently renovated by New York icon Donald Trump, is known as the Trump Wollman Rink. The easiest entrance is 59th Street and Sixth Avenue. There is a fee for skate rental and entrance.

The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.

Manhattan creates a country home feel for tourists and city dwellers, who fight the definition of their life in the city, with frequent and quant Holiday Bazaars located at the entrance of Central Park on Columbus Circle, The Pond at Bryant Park, Grand Central Terminal, Union Square (14th Street), and St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue.

And visions of sugar plums danced in her head.

If, after, you’ve done all the requisite activities, stockings hung by the chimney with care, neighbor and super gifted, cards sent, shopping done, presents wrapped and you're still having trouble mustering up that holiday spirit then from the film library of Christmas Classics, try the following:

The definitive film on the existence of Santa Claus, and a must see, is Miracle on 34th Street staring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and a young Natalie Wood.

The definitive film on the existence of Santa Claus: A must see!

Others include The Bells of St. Mary’s starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore directed by the incomparable Frank Capra, The Preacher’s Wife both the classic and remake starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington in the remake of "The Preacher's Wife." See them both!

Also, Home Alone & Home Alone II: Lost is New York, The Santa Clause with Tim Allen (the original is the best; the second’s not bad), and A Charlie Brown’s Christmas for entertaining young children.

Eric Lloyd and Tim Allen in "The Santa Clause."

The Charles Dickens' classic tale of sinister Scrooge in both the original and the animated version for children and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas for kids of all ages in either the classic or the Jim Carry remake and The Christmas Story for an animated version of the biblical interpretation of Christmas.

Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."

Alas, if your Holiday season resembles the recent Thanksgiving episode of Boston Legal, where all taboos are spoken, fights ensue, hearts are broken, and all is mended by dessert, and for the real world when all hearts are not mended and families are split, the following websites can be helpful to assist with the holiday blues, blahs or ahhs!

Macy's window displays are stunning works of creativity.

The Holiday season for families broken by divorce can be one of the most difficult and stressful times of the year. Long settled questions of who, when, where become triggers for momentary madness that sends children retreating and slamming doors and parents into the extreme. Personally, as a child of divorce, the holidays for children can become aggravated by family dinners that involve all the relatives that were once your family and while in theory they still are, now, in reality, they are not. 

Alas, the holidays aren't always gentle.

A good resource for children of divorce is www.firstwivesworld.org. It doesn’t offer all the answers and yet it does provide simple tips that can get lost in the holiday madness.

Radio City Music Hall, home to the world famous Rockettes!

And if, after that, you’re still lonely or feeling desperately blah! Then take a walk and visit the Holiday location of your choice, eat ice cream, Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, in bed, watch old movies, or new movies, make a phone call, visit a friend, listen to Christmas carols, reach out. It’s not Norman Rockwell, but it works.

Happy Holidays!

For help with the Blues, Blahs or Ahhs:

www.firstwivesworld.org
www.sabonnyc.com
www.thepondatbryantpark.com/shop_holiday.php
www.unionsquarenyc.org/index.cfm
www.urbanspacenyc.com/projects/columbuscircle.asp
www.stbarts.org
www.grandcentralterminal.com
www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/iceskating

 

All Photos taken by Janet Walker courtesy of Pulse Point Productions, Inc.: www.pulsepointproductionsinc.com

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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