Sunday, December 7, 2008

Heedless of the wind and weather

One of my favorite Christmas traditions to huddle with strangers in the middle of a busy street and demonstrate my dreadfully low contralto voice by singing carols. Luckily for me, New York City actually blocks traffic on Park Avenue one night a year to do this.

The Park Avenue Tree Lighting was tonight, and despite the 25 degree weather and the blow-you-over winds, my husband and I suited up our daughters in their ski gear and went. I thought for certain there wouldn't be much of a crowd, but still, a thousand or so people showed up to shiver and sing. Everyone is invited, and lots of different types of people come--people of all faiths or of no faith at all. Whatever. You can grab a carol sheet and sing or just stand and watch them turn on the trees. The Park Avenue Memorial trees (lights in pines for Christmas, in cherry trees for Hanukkah) are dedicated to those who died in our country's wars.


The trees run down the mall, from 96th street to the Met Life building in midtown. Like so:


I didn't actually take this picture, but mine were terrible so I copied it off a travel site. Don't tell on me.


We stood in front of Brick Presbyterian Church:





I'm not the most sentimental person you will ever meet, but there's just something about caroling with a group of cold-but-happy people that makes me smile. And sing loudly. And badly.


Any special holiday traditions you'd like to share?

15 comments:

Joanne said...

I love NYC at Christamstime. For many years, we visited your town - Went to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Rockefeller Center, Macy's, carriage ride thru the park. We haven't gone in a couple years now, so we're due for some NYC-style holiday spirit!

thedomesticfringe said...

Sounds like a good time...a cold time though. It's SO windy out there tonight!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Sounds fantastic. Did y'all bring along a thermos of hot chocolate? Love that the invitation's open to all! I've been there once during the Christmas season long ago, and it was a site to behond.

WendyCinNYC said...

Joanne--Come on down! I'll meet you for coffee.

thedomesticfringe--It was SO cold. But we were bundled so much that my daughters were sweating under all those clothes.

Angie--I thought about bringing along something a little stronger than hot chocolate.

Melanie Avila said...

That sounds like so much fun Wendy. I love being part of a large group like that, and that's cool the trees are dedicated to the troops.

spyscribbler said...

Wow, I've always wanted to visit NYC at Christmastime. (Or at anytime.) I do love sings, too. One of my good friends in high school was Mennonite, and they used to have "singings" of hymns (and they were all taught in Sunday School how to sing in four parts). I loved it, even though I wasn't Mennonite!

What an awesome tradition! Love the pictures!

bernthis said...

I could cry seeing those photos and hearing your story. I miss NYC so much. I think this event really reflects the free spirit of that wonderful city and how you are never really alone in NYC Thanks for this

WendyCinNYC said...

Melanie--We've been to it every year since moving here. I love this tradition.

Spy--I had no idea the Mennoites were so into singing. Interesting.

bernthis--NYC misses you, too!

colbymarshall said...

My Cmas tradition is waiting to Christmas Night to open presents with my husband after everything else and all the other hullablaloo is over. We have a special moment where we turn out all the lights but the tree and sit down together and share our gifts. It's my favourite.

Pink Ink said...

My husband would never consider a move to a big city like NYC, but reading this makes me want to. I love being in big crowds that do crazy fun things, and the energy!

My favorite tradition is putting lights on our real tree we picked out as a family and decorating it with the family.

WendyCinNYC said...

Colby--That sounds like a very sweet tradition.

PinkInk--We just put up our tree this weekend. Last year we skipped it because we are never here the week before and after Christmas, but that was such a bummer.

ChristaCarol said...

Hi Wendy! Purgatory friend here. Beautiful pictures, by the way. I've been to NY once, but it was mostly Long Island. I've never had the chance to enjoy NYC and I'd love to one day.

Our traditions so far are putting everything up the weekend after Thanksgiving, baking things for friends and family, my daughter and I constructing a gingerbread house, and having our neighbor friends over Christmas morning and having a potluck breakfast. We also spend Christmas Eve night with my family, and Christmas day with husband's. It's been like that the last 2 years anyway. :)

spyscribbler said...

Oh yes! I forgot to mention, they typically don't use the organ or the piano to accompany (lots not at all... it depends on how strict they are), so the congregation hears the starting tone, and everyone sings in FOUR PARTS.

The musician in me just DELIGHTED at this. I loved it!

Lauren said...

That sounds like a great time. I've never been to NYC during Christmas (ever, actually, for that matter). Happy Holidays

WendyCinNYC said...

ChristaCarol and Lauren--Thanks for stopping by! Happy holidays!