I was more excited about Christmas, it seemed, than anyone else in my home this morning, more so even than the kids. It took my forever to fall asleep as I thought about the several boxes my husband had placed with my name on them underneath the tree. I thought about the excitement on my boys’ faces when they opened their gifts. My excitement was almost unbearable, but somehow I managed to fall asleep.
When my 3- and 2-year-old crawled up into our bed at 3am as they often do, I hoped that they would stay up and demand to open gifts, but instead they curled up, one with me and the other with his daddy, and they both fell asleep. I couldn’t this time, and when I noticed the faint glare of morning light peeping through my bedroom window I began to stir up the little ones.
“Wake up!” I whispered, “Santa came! He put presents under the tree for you!” The boys stirred. My husband lifted his head, looked at me through sleepy eyes and smiled. “Wake up! Oh my goodness! Soooo many presents!” I continued. The 3-year-old mumbled, “No, sleep.” The 2-year-old just said, “No!”
I couldn’t believe it! Kids who sleep through Christmas morning. “What has this world come to?” I thought. So I sat up in the bed and like a child sulked at the thought of having to wait two or three more hours till wake up time. Only on Christmas morning would this be a problem for me and only on Christmas morning would this even happen.
But my husband, sensing my eagerness, began to rub the babies and whisper in their ears until both boys, rubbing their eyes, got out of bed and walked out to the living room to stare at the empty plate of cookies “Santa” had eaten, and the gifts he had left behind. Soon after, my 11-year-old joined in and we opened gifts, took pictures, and started playing with our new gadgets and toys, before getting hungry, and thinking about breakfast.
The day in general was lazy and spent at home. Kids playing with toys, or video games. I was figuring out my new camera and my husband relaxed reading or watching tv, both often taking turns calling loved ones far away.
I was loving the city today, because even from home I could sense the wonderfulness of spending the holiday season in New York City. Though rarely will you see a white Christmas here what you will sense is something almost as great: a city all your own. With the sudden migration of New Yorkers to cities a lot warmer, families members a lot farther, or just any other place that’s not here, one can really walk around and feel a sense of calm in the air. Though it is the energy and vibrance of the city that I love so much, I do enjoy these rare moments of peace and quiet as I walk along the streets, and in the parks, through stores, and down blocks. It’s nice, even if just for a moment. Because of course, it is inevitable that at some point you will find the crowds, mostly tourists, and the festivities of the day, happening at one place or another.
We did eventually venture out but not until the sun that gave way to the moonlight. We decided to visit the Christmas tree at the South Street Seaport and take in the views before our favorite day of the year was officially over.
One often hears about the marvelous Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. Its beauty cannot be denied, with the ceremonial lighting each year ushering the beginning of the Christmas gift giving season. The ice skating rink is probably the most visited in the city, surrounded by numerous crowds, restaurants, and shops galore. These are all things we visit each year, more than once to be precise, but I also enjoys the other locations, just as great and twice as nice especially if forcefully rubbing shoulders with strangers is just not your thing.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The kids were happy to get out of the apartment. The breeze was cold once we arrived to South Street. It was perfect. The streets are empty. Couples slowly walked by, smiling and holding hands. Children ran around on the empty cobble stone streets, peeking into the festive holiday windows and closed store fronts. The Christmas tree stood tall and proud, with the empty microphone stands that the holiday chorus left behind.
South Street Seaport Tree
We walked across the street onto the empty pier. The festive lights decorating the docked boats glistened on the still waters of the East River. The night sky was glimmering with millions of stars, putting to rest the myth that one can never enjoy starry nights in this wonderful city.
I took a deep breath of the fresh winter air and though I know every corner of the pier by heart, I recorded each second with my new camera as my boys ran about, posed for pictures, tried counting stars, and admired the Brooklyn Bridge’s beauty at night.
There was festive holiday music playing in the hidden speakers throughout, but no food to eat, no shops to explore into. Most restaurants had closed moments before our arrival, which was fine by us. It is one of those wonderful places that can be peacefully appreciated, if you know when to go.
And for our family, this was the perfect time. To be able to enjoy a piece of our city, on this beautiful Christmas night, without the hustle and bustle of everyone else. It was the perfect ending to a series of hectic days that led to a morning full of surprises and excitement.
The boys, my husband, and I sat along the dock a bit longer before someone mentioned the word “pizza”. With this and a sudden hunger, we all got up and took one last look at the city lights before happily making our way back home.