Friday, 17 December 2010

Manhattan at Christmas

I went into Manhattan this morning to meet someone about possible freelance work. I had an hour or so to kill before our meeting, so I took the opportunity to wander the chilly streets of the City, taking in the Christmas lights and decorations. Sadly I didn' t have my camera, but here is a verbal snapshot of what I saw....

A giant Smurf above the front door of Macy's. And lots of fluffy Smurf toys piled up inside. (Smurfs must be having a comeback - I remember my sister having a similar fluffy Smurf in about 1985. These were selling for a lot more than I am sure hers cost).

A giant Christmas tree made of poinsettias in the lobby of a bank building. I was rather taken with this.

Very lost-looking tourists outside the Waldorf-Astoria. (There was a great story about the W-A in the NY Times last week. A couple had their room given away because some Saudi princes were in town. They were furious - they were given instead rooms at the Hilton, but were quoted as saying that it "just wasn't the same - people were carrying pizza boxes in the elevator!" )

A delicious array of fragrances at Saks Fifth Avenue,including lots of Jo Malone, with which I liberally sprayed myself. (I went upstairs to look at the clothes, but was quickly put off by the price tags, and shocked by the rails full of fur coats. Decided I am more of J Crew and Zara type of girl.)

A Christmas market just off Fifth Avenue that seemed to sell nothing but furry hats.

Several groups of Salvation Army people singing carols on street corners.

Two people carrying gigantic bunches of balloons - they looked as if they were about to float and take off. They must have been for an office party, I reckon.

Quite a few people with British accents on the streets, several complaining about the cold. (Wear a hat, woman!)

A schoolbus full of kids brought to see the massive tree at Rockefeller Center, delight lighting up their faces.

It was certainly very Christmassy. I was trying to think about how it compares to London, though, and realised that I didn't see any one focal streetwith huge arching Christmas lights, (like Regent Street for instance. Although now I can't help thinking of poor old Regent Street being full of rioters shouting 'off with their heads' at the royals). On the other hand, New Yorkers do not stint when it comes to trees festooned with lights, huge wreaths and baubles adorning storefronts and wonderfully Christmassy smells - roasting chestnuts on street corners, stalls selling hot chocolate.

And of course, when it comes to home Christmas decorations, Americans far out-class the Brits. Not only on the outside (stay tuned for photos - I hope to get some next week) but on the inside too - according to this story, several rich Manhattanites now hire interior decorators to dress their tree. My interior decorators, on the other hand, were the Littleboys, armed with a bunch of paperclips. And the outdoor decorator was The Doctor, armed with a stepladder and two strings of Christmas lights to be strung around a little fir tree (as opposed to the several thousand strings, together with reindeer and sled combos employed by some of our neighbours). We will, however, be spreading some Christmas cheer with a mince pie and mulled wine party this weekend. I'll be interested to see how those very British delicacies go down......

12 comments:

Home Office Mum said...

You're making me homesick for when I lived in Manhattan!

And, where are you going to get mince pies from in the USA? Are you making your own including own mincemeat?? If so, kudos. I make my own every year. By that I mean I buy ready to roll puff pastry, ready made jar of mincemeat, fill squares of pastry with filling, fold, squash edges with fork, egg wash and voila. Much better than any store bought thing ever. But not exactly home made either. Hope the party is fab

Knackered Mother said...

Oh how I wish you'd had your camera, but did very much enjoy your descriptions. Surely you will be using the picture of our Christmas lights as your benchmark. Maybe not.

Expat mum said...

I've seen loads of boxes of mince pies around Chicago but I always think they've probably been in storage for about 3 years and are stale. besides, I don't think many Americans would "get" them - same as they don't get Christmas cake or pud. Sigh!
And yes NVG - when I first moved here, people use to say I MUST go to Michigan Avenue and see the lights. What lights? Nothing like the lights across the streets they do in England. It looks OK, but they just wire up all the trees with white lights. I was a little underwhelmed. (I was going to do a post on that, but it seems I've exhausted my material here!)

nappy valley girl said...

HomeOfficeMum - The Doctor is making them, with a large tub of mincemeat I ordered from a British food shop based in Maine - see below.
http://www.britishgoods.com/
I also bought an M&S Christmas pudding from them, at vast expense...

Knackered Mother - your lights are lovely. However, on Long Island, I think they would be regarded as very understated. If you aren't using enough electricity to power a small country, basically it doesn't count....

Expat Mum - Mince Pies, see above. Yes, I fully expect Americans not to get the concept. For a start, I'm going to explain clearly that they are fruit, not meat. Hopefully they will try them. As for the devils on horseback, well that's anybody's guess.

Calif Lorna said...

That all sounds so lovely, I think the verbal picture is even better than taking photos. The poinsettia tree sounds amazing - what a clever idea.

ghostwritermummy said...

What a lovely post and what a great blog! I'm so jealous- New York has always been at the top of my wish list and from your descriptions it sounds perfect!
XxX

Mwa said...

I miss NY so badly just now. And I only ever spent four days there.

I hope the meeting went well.

'Cross the Pond said...

I read this and nearly cried on my keyboard. I wrote a post about the lights on Oxford and Carnaby Streets a week ago and was pining for New York City. Reading this made me miss it with all my heart. I guess the grass is always greener... Care to swap Christmases - you can have my London and I'll take your NY?

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

I think London and NYC both have their special x-mas icons - for me it's Regent Street and Covent Garden in London and Rockefeller Center and the Macy's window in NYC (but what's with the Smurfs). The market in Union Square is also great for x-mas buys. I hope to see those crazy LI lights if our flight goes - we've already had one cancelled! (We have packed a Christmas pudding)

Metropolitan Mum said...

*sniff* I want to go to Manhattan, tooooo!! Never made it to NYC for Christmas, and I am afraid it'll be a little while until I'll be able to do so...

Elsie Button said...

absolutely loved reading this! would love to see pics too!
A very happy christmas!
ps how did you get on with the interview? x

Thud said...

Too many small children to venture to New York for a while yet but good to read your Christmas views.