Monday, December 7, 2009


Window display at Peter Pan Donuts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

One of my favorite things about New York is the variety of window displays, particularly at Christmas time. From the tinseled paper towels at the lowliest Bodega to the opulent splendor at Bergdorf Goodman, merchants display their wares in the most festive holiday manner.

I have always loved Christmas, the rituals, the smells, the sounds, the flavors, a general good will and, of course, the giving and receiving of gifts. Last year, the economy, tuition, a new business and maturity prompted me to reassess the season. I was also deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred at a Long Island Wal-Mart for the want of a flat screen TV. Mat and I decided to make each other’s gifts. It was much like the Christmas just before our wedding when we imposed a $25 price limit. I still wear and treasure the Speidel ID bracelets I received, and 21 years later, we are still going steady. We intend to make each other’s gifts every year.

Every Christmas I recall the creatures, the boy and the girl, hiding in the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol:

They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.

My hope this Yuletide and beyond is to heed these words and remember that kindness and tolerance are among the greatest of gifts and are surely remembered long after the others gather dust in a closet. Next week I will have some free time and I plan to enjoy New York at Christmas with a stroll in the city. I will take my camera and notebook but will travel lightly - sans shopping list. I imagine I’ll experience a larger helping of Christmas Spirit.

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