Celebrating Christmas and the holiday season has so many wonderful traditions that bring us all together and right back to our most innocent and carefree days as a child. Having grown up in New York City, I have been lucky enough to experience global cultural landmarks and touchstones like going to church at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, seeing the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, shopping and seeing the department store windows on 5th Avenue, and going to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular and the Nutcracker Suite at Lincoln Center. This year, I saw my goddaughter dance in the Nutcracker, immediately bringing tears of joy and the memories of childhood right back to the surface.
I have a few very vivid memories as a very young child at Christmas. One was at my grandparents’ home in Brooklyn and receiving a pair of Mickie and Minnie Mouse bookends which I still have to this day. Another was when I was going to sleep on Christmas Eve and asking my dad if Santa was arriving soon. He said that my aunt had just told him that Santa’s sleigh had left their house in Brooklyn, and that there had just been some noise on the roof of our building (in downtown New York City where we lived until I was 5), so he should be arriving any minute now. I will never ever forget that image/sound conjured in my imagination, still there as if it were yesterday, and so comforting then that it put me right to sleep. As the first-born of my family, my Christmas mornings at that “starter apartment” for my parents are sometimes even more vivid than those at the home my siblings and I know as home together for all of my life, yet of course those are still vivid and very much alive as well.
I also have very vivid memories of my dad reading a very special edition of “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, also known as “A Night Before Christmas” – the extraordinary poem by Clement Clarke Moore that has created the indelible images of St. Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, and captured the momentum of his journey from the North Pole to be in all of our heads – landing atop all of our rooftops and down all our chimneys to give us all what we asked for and to make all of our dreams come true.
The excitement of Christmas Eve for children and for believers in magic, miracles, angels, God, a higher power, and Santa is something that reminds us all of what Christmas means: peace, solidarity, joy to the world, and an everlasting childhood innocence. On that high note, I went to bed last night just like that little girl so many years ago, with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. I always will have those visions, and hope all of you will too.
God Bless us All, God Bless Us Everyone, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day, night, and the best year ahead in 2020 filled with visions of dancing sugar plums, miracles coming true, and to bringing a little bit of your childhood and all of your childlike wonder with you everywhere you go.