2013 was my very first year spending Christmas away from my parents. The airfares were just so expensive for three people that we decided to go home at a different time when the prices were a lot lower and spend the holiday season in New York. New York is just beautiful over Christmas. In Australia it’s always hot over Christmas, so I was really looking forward to enjoying Christmas in true winter, with cold-weather food, clothing, decorations and traditions.
New York does everything big and bold, and Christmas is no exception. Trees and lights start to sprout all over the city following Thanksgiving. The biggest is of course the Rockefeller tree, but there are trees all over the city, with tree lightings and caroling in a lot of the small neighbourhoods in the lead up to Christmas. Santa likes to visit all the ‘hoods as well, from the famous Santa at Macy’s to the lesser-known ones that pop up in the smaller ‘hoods for breakfast with the kids.
Since Missy E is a very … inquisitive toddler, we decided to forgo a tree this year (mostly because I just didn’t want to have to put the ornaments back on it over and over and over again). Instead we chose a little felt tree from Etsy, with felt ornaments, that E could decorate herself repeatedly. It did the charm, as this year was the year she decided Christmas trees were the best thing ever. Christmas Eve we placed a few gifts around the felt tree to surprise E with in the morning.
Our present opening in the morning was truly a high tech experience, with my parents skyping in from Sydney to enjoy the festivities with us. It was so lovely that they could still enjoy being with us from afar. It was really difficult for me being away from home this year. I really missed being with my family on Christmas Day, and we decided that next year we will save up so we can afford the airfare home for Christmas.
After present opening (the biggest hits for E were the doll house, train set and guitar), we attempted to get E to nap before lunch. After a few hours with no napping for the hyper toddler, we set off into the city, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to get her to take a stroller nap. It was a brisk day, with a high of -5, so it’s fair to say that it was a pretty cold walk! Thankfully, E did nap, and we did make it to lunch on time.
Since we would be on our own this year, I made a booking at a restaurant for Christmas lunch – the Bryant Park Grill. I wanted to capture as much holiday spirit for us as I could. The Grill was a good choice. It was a bit crazy busy, but the location was fabulous. Right next to the ice rink and Christmas tree in Bryant Park. We had a really love, non-traditional meal, and then let E run around Bryant Park. She loved the tiny carousel, and watching the ice skaters. She was actually begging to go ice skating – maybe next year … The Christmas tree was the big hit for her. Unlike most of the trees, this one you can go right up underneath and touch the giant ornaments. A very gleeful toddler though this was the most fun in the world.
And so was our very New York Christmas this year! We tried to fit in as many of the holiday activites as possible, but only managed a few, like the department store windows (Saks and their Yeti was the favourite), visiting Santa at The Plaza, and seeing the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller plaza.
I feel blessed for my little family, and blessed that our lives have been so lucky. Hoping everyone else’s Christmases were filled with love and family.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!