A Travellerspoint blog

Christmas in NYC: My Heart is Full of Unwashed Socks

So it was a pretty crappy fall around our house, though it started off innocently enough. In early October, we decided that it was time to get a new living room rug. But a new rug would highlight just how badly our apartment needs a fresh coat of paint, so we decided to go ahead and paint the living room. Which meant that we'd also have to paint the hallways. And just look at how lumpy that ceiling is, and how wavy those bulkheads are! Might as well do some skim-coating while we're at it. And install some crown molding in the kitchen . . . and then paint that room, too. And so it came to pass that poor Angel found himself knee-deep in paint, plaster, sandpaper, and dust. Because we needed a new living room rug.

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Approximately one week into this brilliant idea, we decided to take a break and head over to a friend's house for a Halloween party. I decided to dress as a 60s flower child, seeing as how I already own a pair of bell-bottoms, clogs, big wooden beaded necklaces, a faux-fur leopard print coat, 70s-style suede handbag, and even a pair of big John-Lennon style sunglasses (prescription, no less). Something tells me there's a "surprise" nomination for What Not To Wear in my future.

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Angel dressed as a cross between a 1970s-era pimp and those guys who stand outside the restaurants in Little Italy hawking $10 spaghetti dinners. After gently nestling his giant, gold man medallion snugly into the chest hair popping out of his unbuttoned-down-to-there shirt, we hailed a taxi and were off.

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Unfortunately, we'd only gone about two blocks before a livery cab ran a red light and -- BOOM! The town car slammed into our taxi, then bounced off and totalled a parked car for good measure. At the moment of impact, Angel flew forward, slamming his knee into the divider, then slid left . . . slamming his (giant) shoulder into my (small) chest. But that's not the worst part. No, the worst part was standing on Park Avenue at the scene of a three-car accident, trying to tell the police exactly what happened, and explain to the EMT that yes, my breast hurts, and no, you don't need to touch it . . . all while dressed like Kate Hudson in Almost Famous and John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

The folks at Lenox Hill hospital took great care of us, poking, prodding, and pretending not to notice our ridiculous get-ups. Finally, after being discharged with a knee immobilizer, a nursing-home-issue silver cane, and instructions for treating a Boob Contusion (that's the fancy medical term), we did what anyone who'd just spent the last three hours in an emergency room would do . . . we showed up at the Halloween party. Free booze, ya'll!

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We are thankfully going to be fine, but Angel's knee injury meant that he had to sit out this year's Macy's Thankgiving Day Parade, in which he has served as a balloon pilot for the past 8 years. (The pilot is the guy who walks way out in front of the balloon, directing it down the street, and then complains for days afterwards about the walking! Three miles! Backwards!). A melancholy mood settled over our dirty, dusty, power-tool-strewn apartment. And so it was with more excitement than usual that I have been looking forward to the holiday season. The city that never sleeps -- hence its perpetually cranky mood -- finally throws off its winter gloom and transforms itself into a twinkling, over-the-top winter wonderland. Skaters bundle into wooly scarves and mittens for a spin around Wollman Rink. Shoppers clutch cups of hot chocolate and mill around the festive open-air markets at Union Square and Bryant Park. Tourists flock to the tree at Rockefeller Center, aglow with thousands of lights, and Santas of every size, shape, color, and gender roam the sidewalks. The scent of roasting chestnuts and the tinkle of Salvation Army bells fill the air. And occasionally, a Christmas miracle occurs, and a New Yorker actually smiles.

Of course, photographic proof of this miracle is harder to obtain than a non-blurry shot of Bigfoot, so how about a nice electric snowflake to symbolize it instead?

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My first stop was to my favorite holiday decoration in all of New York City, which I like to call the Tree Clump. The Tree Clump consists of 105 live Christmas trees (not that I counted them) on one side of a skyscraper, and 105 more on the other side, all lit up in Christmasy splendor and pine-scented fabulousness.

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One night Angel was walking home from work when he happened to spot a couple of the guys charged with installing and lighting all 210 of these trees -- no easy feat when you consider that Angel utters more obscenities in one afternoon of putting up our single tree than he does in an entire year. So he stopped and told them how beautiful it was, and what a great job they were doing, and how much his wife appreciates it. And . . . nothing. The first guy apparently didn't speak a word of English, and the second one just glared at Angel and shrugged his shoulders. See? Holiday spirit, alive and well in New York!

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Next I headed over to the New York Palace hotel and its on-site restaurant, Gilt. Which is presumably what you will feel if you spend $16 for an order of French fries . . . said the girl who once paid $79 for two glasses of Champagne.

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The prices aren't the only things oversized in New York City, though. We also have super-sized egos, tempers, mouths . . . and some other stuff, too.

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In case something a little more subdued is more your taste, let us now glide by the vaunted Wadorf-Astoria. Lest you be intimidated by this bastion of taste and class, however, just remember: They once let Paris Hilton live here.

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Am I the only one who's not surprised that the trees outside Rupert Murdoch's office look like devil horns??

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Of course, no posting about Christmas in New York would be complete without a visit to Rockefeller Center.

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After downing a handful of Xanax and Valium, plus a shot of whiskey for courage, I was finally ready to be swept into the massive rushing river of human beings that is Rock Center at Christmas. However, it only took about 5 minutes before I found myself wishing I'd brought my flask . . . and a cattle prod.

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As I inched my way through the crowd, I caught hundreds of snippets of conversations, most including the words "beautiful," "tall," and "amazing" in reference to the tree. But the most common word I overheard, as visitors marveled over the world's most famous Christmas tree? BIEBER. Apparently Bieber Fever is more contagious than we thought.

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Of course, some folks were more impressed by the tree than others.

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As I struggled to leave Rock Center, the crowd holding me back like a spitball in a slingshot, I finally broke free and catapulted out onto Fifth Avenue, just in time to see the aftermath of a minor fender-bender. As the police and the driver of the first car departed, the driver of the second car stomped back to his vehicle, red-faced and fuming. As I drew nearer, I heard him mutter to himself: "What's so #$%^& special about this #$%^& tree, anyway?!?" The man might have a point.

Elsewhere in the city, the crowds are thankfully thinner; the decorations much less glitzy and over-the-top.

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But no matter where you go in New York City, you never know who you might see.

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These folks must be lined up to see some celebrity, right? Or maybe to get into the hottest new nightclub?

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Actually, no. They are lined up to get into . . . an Abercrombie & Fitch. So they can be assaulted by music at decible levels akin to those at a shuttle launch and forced to don a headlamp in order to see the overpriced merchandise. God, I'm old.

Aside from the decorations, New York City is also the ideal place to find the perfect gift for that man or woman on your list who has everything. Who couldn't use a new pair of blue suede shoes?

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Or a stunning dress made from the feathers of the sadly-extinct Dodo bird? I hope that's not his bald little carcass in her hand.

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Or you could surprise someone with this lovely zebras-being-shot-with-arrows-print umbrella . . .

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To match their zebras-being-shot-with-arrows wallpaper, of course.

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And to think we spent all that time and effort repainting our living room. Next time, we'll just get the zebra wallpaper and call it a day.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Hannuka Chanukah Hanukkah Holidays!

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Posted by TraceyG 05:21 Archived in USA Tagged christmas new_york_city rockefeller_center

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