Thursday, December 8, 2016


I must admit I get a little obsessed with the holiday season when I'm in the city. It's my plight, my delight and my obsession to walk the miles and miles of the city soaking in every blinking light, sauced up Santa and peppermint candycane from as low as I can go on the island to has high up the avenues I could find strings of lights, wreaths and decorated trees.
My sleigh and I started at the Oculus, as far down the island as I was willing to go. 608This was the Oculus' first Christmas and like parents on their baby's first they decked the halls, here with a fantastic light show that rippled across the ceiling's webs in a sea of psychedelic snowflakes.
Then as a gift to all needing a little holiday beauty help MAC set up a free make-up station giving all of us the opportunity to look their best for those office parties.
Even the staff at the Westfield Shops looked Christmas spiffy in their holiday best cleaning up the floors with appropriate red mops
At the new Brookfield Place a tremendous new food emporium has opened up with gifts, food purveyors and a ton of restaurants just in time for the on slot of hungry holiday shoppers.
Even the office buildings pitched in with their contributions to the holiday spirit in what was here an understated but elegant way.
It seems every landmark in the city now has its own significant live fir tree wrapped with millions of lights. The New York Stock Exchange was no different perched at the south end of the Exchange the tree looms large and gives Rockefeller Center a run for its money
Although surrounded with construction the back entrance to the Stock Exchange was no less beautiful than the front. Sometimes a little dinginess adds a sense of reality and counterpoint to perfection
From lower Manhattan it was a leap up to lower Fifth Avenue and the entrance to my favorite department store, the Club Monaco at the corner of 21st Street. Their holiday take was very organic, a fairyland entrance to almost anything I'd covet.
From there it's up Fifth to 40th and Lord & Taylor. I miss their animated windows with their historic renditions of Christmas pasts at the city's most memorable landmarks like Luchow's and the Rainbow Room but technology has intervened and their new look is now more video screen and two-dimensional.
Still the family of snow owls had its appeal, the mother owl's comforting wings wrapping her warm feathers around her clutch of young.
It was a bit of a crisscross over to 42nd and Grand Central Terminal. This is a must every year for the holiday market, the food court, the Transit Museum's miniature city with its model trains and of course the central lobby.
From there it was back across 42nd to the skating rink at Bryant Park. I hit it the night they lit their tree along with a skating performance I couldn't see for all the crowds, but the smells of cinnamon and live Christmas music satisfied two other senses. I might have given up one but got two and that's not a bad trade.
The windows at Saks Fifth Avenue had their own magic this year.
Under the theme of "Land of 1000 Delights" their heroine, Clara, dreamt of her favorite nutcracker battling an army of marshmallow mice and whipping them into a sea of sweet cream
or a pair of harlequin gingerbreads dancing out from under the queen's skirt to the delight of a sea of children passing by
But the highlight is the light show that goes on every ten minutes from five until eleven pm to the track for "Carol of the Bells" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Thousands gather across the street waiting for the clock of lights to run its ten-minute cycle and start the castle of lights action over again.
If this doesn't get you in the mood then turn around and walk to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Hovering over the skating rink the tradition of the Rockefeller tree has been around since 1933. Along with the miles of lights on the tree there's the skating rink and Prometheus to add to the excitement.
A little further up Fifth Avenue and just to the east you can pop into the St. Regis for a drink at the King Cole Bar alongside Maxfield Parrish's famous mural.
Or you can cross to the other side of Fifth and stop by the Peninsula to try out their holiday treats.
There's no way Harry Winston would even let me in the door of their famous jewelry store but peeking in through the window was a luxury I could afford
At the corner of Fifth and 57th Street is another icon of New York's gem and luxury industry, Tiffany & Company. The crystal snowflake festooned over the intersection has been a recent annual decoration.
Around the corner on 57th is another prominent name in the hotel business, The Four Seasons, whose holiday display is as subtle and elegant as you'd expect
I don't usual play favorites but Bergdorf gets my vote as best of show. They always tend to incorporate their merchandise within their holiday windows and this year was no exception but the detail that each window goes into is sheer magic.
Their windows require great scrutiny or you'll miss so much of the information behind each green leaf or spidery vine
Looking at a pair of winged carousel horses bucking up to support a bejeweled goddess was a work of mythology
And a contemporary cowgirl riding atop her jack-a-lop into a cactus filled western oasis. All of it was really the work of a genius mind whoever the designer was.
From there it was up the eastside to Bloomingdale's whose windows gave Berfdorfs a run for their money.
Inside Bloomingdale's has gone neon for the holidays with a display of white light rings in colorful plastic string bondage.
The Met was as far up as I was going to go. Stopping to see their tree and crèche was important even for those who don't believe.
The crèche a gift of Loretta Hines Howard in1964 is an assemblage of over two-hundred eighteenth century Neopolitan Baroque figures including the holy family and fifty silk gowned angels.
Whether you're looking for the spiritual or just a ho-ho-ho New York is holiday magic and a bucket list item for anyone needing a little cheer in their life. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

South Philly Xmas Window, 1972
Will Brown, photographer
Represented by Laurence Miller Gallery, NYC

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