A miracle on every street

Elizabeth Nieto

When Christmas carolers harmonize in the familiar refrain, “Silver bells, silver bells / it’s Christmastime in the city,” chances are, they aren’t referring to Philadelphia or Los Angeles. Anyone who has set foot beyond the George Washington Bridge after Thanksgiving Day will assert that New York City is the mecca of the holiday bustling. People travel from all over to feel the energy present in NYC during the Christmas season. From Rockefeller Center’s annual tree to Macy’s animated windows, from figure skaters in Central Park’s ice-skating arena to children gawking their way through toy stores, there is nothing not to love about NYC at Christmastime.

Except for maybe the traffic. Or the unreasonably long department store lines. Or the clanking of bells in the hands of every Santa on every street corner within eyeshot.

But somehow, even the things that would have enraged the most passive people any other time of the year are taken with a grain of salt and evoke a feeling of acceptance and vitality around Christmas.

According to Villanova Law School alumna and New York City resident Cristina Schoen, the season of Christmas truly begins on Thanksgiving.

“For me,” Schoen says, “the Christmas season really starts on the eve of Thanksgiving when I can look out my window and see the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sitting along the sidewalk waiting for their turn to float down Broadway and escort Santa into the city. The streets around the museum are filled with hundreds of passersby who mingle with the larger-than-life characters that have magically come to life.”

She adds that the Christmas aura spreads all the way into midtown, where there is an aroma of roasting chestnuts “signaling to Manhattan-ites and visitors alike that Christmas is truly in the air.”

Although NYC offers so many possibilities of things to do during the “off-season,” partaking in the winter wonderland that is New York is so much more meaningful and exciting during Christmas. The streets, though normally lined with business-people fixated on their Palm Pilot, the subway schedule, or their cell phone conversation, now step a bit more sprightly through the streets and sidewalks.

New Yorkers in the Christmas spirit can be sighted anywhere from Radio City Music Hall after seeing Santa and his flawless line of high-kicking Rockettes, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral after lighting a candle for a loved one in the holiday season. Both residents and visitors teem out of toy shops and department stores, scurry from street vendors to horse-drawn carriage rides, and gawk outside of Lord and Taylor’s annual window display, which literally stops people in their tracks.

Another NYC resident and Villanova undergraduate alumna Laura Clark connects the Christmas season in New York to fond memories of childhood. “The streets come alive with even more hustle and bustle,” Clark says, “making it a bit more nerve-racking than usual. But no one seems to mind because it allows everyone a chance to recapture our youth – Santa at Macy’s Herald Square, the giant snowflake on Park Ave, Smith and Wollensky’s wrapped up with a big red bow, and of course, the tree at Rockefeller Plaza.”

All of the preparation and excitement for a single holiday makes a city as prestigious and monumental as New York into a blustery snow globe. Deadlines and obligations are temporarily put on hold, while the only calendar date in mind is Dec. 25. Upon entering the city, New York residents and travelers alike can somehow sense that “soon it will be Christmas day.”