Posted on: Thursday
Merry Christmas!! A couple of days ago, while Gaby was at work, I took the kids to see the BIG tree in the city. No, not the Rockefeller tree, but the simply-lit, arch-framed beauty that goes up each year in the village. While the tree at Rockefeller Center is undeniably majestic, going to see it usually entails intense crowds, police barricades, and an uncomfortable amount of pushing and shoving and picture-taking. I've done it in the past, and will happily do it again in the years to come, but, this year, I was simply not feeling it. So instead, we wandered over to Biet's little home away from home, Washington Square Park.
We arrived a bit before dusk so that we could catch that day's tree lighting. The park was buzzing with holiday energy, the weather was unseasonably tepid, and a light scent of hot cider lingered in the air. Street musicians played with gusto, crooning upbeat big-band swing on the east side of the park, old-timey quartet Christmas carols on the north, and moody accordion tunes on the south. Biet led the way as we made the rounds from show to show, dancing to all of the joyful music and, in the Christmas spirit, throwing a dollar into the hat of each performer. Biet jumped and spun and swayed her arms over her head to the music. Often times, she would be the only one dancing, and would proudly twirl into the center of the crowd to put on a show of her own, bowing for the audience as the song ended. Her freedom around people blows me away sometimes. Just as the sun was setting and we were arriving back at the tree after making our way through the entire park, we heard a collective gasp and looked up to see the tree lights all beam on!
We stood for a minute and gazed up in wonder. Free of ornaments and decoration, the Washington Square tree is a simple beauty, standing tall against the city skyline with a million little white lights. Its simplicity is what makes it so special, to me, anyway. While many parts of the city are engulfed in shopping mayhem, shop windows are filled with wrapping paper, sparking lights, and fake snow, store aisles are overflowing with red and green and gold and silver everything, and the street corners are inhabited by hundreds of Santa's ringing bells and hustling, the tree at Washington Square stands as a beacon of the true simplicity and joy of the holiday season. It's so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of Christmas, especially in a big city where a certain frenzy exists out on the streets year-round anyway. I try to stay focused on the love, tradition, and simple pleasures of the holidays, and I hope to instill those values in my children as well. So it was so wonderful to find this little corner of the city- this peaceful and creative park with a quietly majestic Christmas tree- that seemed to mirror my idea of what Christmas can be.
As the skies darkened and the tree shone brighter and brighter, my two babies, both tuckered out from their park shenanigans, fell asleep in their stroller (goodness, how I've needed a double stroller! We finally took the plunge and it is amazing!), so I continued to wander through the village. When it began to rain, I ducked into a little pastry shop with my slumbering kiddos and enjoyed a chocolate mousse all alone. Sitting there by myself, while my babies slept next to me, the city swarmed just outside the window, the rain pounded down, and the holidays crept closer, the whole world suddenly felt right. I think that was the moment that I finally caught the holiday spirit, which for some reason had been eluding me this year, and started really getting excited for Christmas and for the approaching new year.
It was a truly beautiful day.
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