Christmas really is the most wonderful time of year for me. What stands out is my family’s traditions of years gone by. While living my elementary school years in a suburb of Chicago, I remember my family going to see “The Nutcracker” or A Christmas Carol downtown each year and, to this day, nothing says Christmas like Christmas in the city.
I remember taking the train downtown as a ten year old and stepping out into the streets and seeing shoppers galore, smelling the chestnuts and hot cocoa from the street vendors, and hearing the sounds of the city all around. I remember eating breakfast, sitting in complete awe at the foot of the gigantic Christmas tree inside the original Marshal Fields department store. I remember fighting the crowds to get a peak at all the department store windows.
I remember, one year, singing over 100 Christmas carols to the animals at Lincoln Park zoo. I even remember playing on a couple of the famous sculptures you see in the movie, Christmas Vacation. All those memories flooded back into my head this past weekend while in San Francisco, complete with a decadent brunch with yet another huge Christmas tree in the background at The Palace Hotel. Again I say, there is nothing like city energy during Christmas.
All that said, I must say that one of my favorite Christmas memories was formed while in college. A group of us went to New York for a long weekend in mid December…just a five hour drive from West Virginia. One of my dreams growing up was to ice-skate at Rockefeller Center. You know, right in front of the most famous Christmas tree in the world! I get goosebumps just thinking about it! Every time we passed by the rink, the line was extremely long. Not worth it we thought. Well, we were in the vicinity during our last night in the city. It was approaching 9:00 p.m. I was sure ice-skating was closed. Nope! We walked right up to the counter and got our rentals and skated onto the ice. No line whatsoever. It was so surreal. I’m surprised I didn’t bump into anyone while skating because all I could do was look up at the bright lights sparkling off the tree.
We skated for about 30 minutes and decided to continue our Christmas adventure by going around to all the department stores peering through the over-the-top window scenes. There was nobody around! It felt like we had the city to ourselves. I still wonder if it was really all a dream. At least I have the pics to prove it.
Christmastime in the city…there is nothing like it. I hope you get a chance to take your families and friends to a city near you. I recommend Chicago or New York, two of the greatest cities in the world!