As a young girl, I was fascinated by New York City from the images I saw on television and movies. In the winter, I would see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Christmas Specials, and New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Dick Clark. Throughout the holiday season, New York City was synonymous with the outdoor skating rink, rows of trumpeting golden angels, and the gigantic Christmas tree towering over it all. The images of the towering buildings and sparkling lights seemed something of a daydream. I could not wait until I was old enough to experience New York for myself.
In December of 2002, a good friend was heading up to Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration and invited me to come along for my first trip to the city. We started the day with a walk past landmarks and a stroll through Central Park. All day long, though, I was looking forward to meeting friends at Rockefeller Center before heading to Times Square.
As we rounded the corner into Rockefeller, the feeling of holiday spirit enveloped us. The plaza was smaller and more intimate than I had expected. The glow of all the lights reflected off the faces of all the tourists. My eyes were immediately drawn to the towering Christmas tree, much larger than I had expected. As we approached the tree, and the top became less and less visible, the hard work that went into decorating this tree became quite apparent. Miles of Christmas light strings are carefully woven through the massive tree, giving it a beautiful and fully lit ambience. As we took our turns huddling under the tree for pictures, there was a true sense of happiness and goodwill amongst the thousands of strangers gathering in celebration. People were smiling, laughing, and taking turns snapping pictures. We walked through past the golden angels, watched skaters showing off their skills (or lack thereof) on the famed outdoor skating rink, and just took in the spirit of the holiday. It was an unexpected moment of peace in a city about to burst into celebratory craziness for the new year.
That night, I was also basking in the glow of being newly pregnant with my first child. I cannot wait for the day I take her to New York City. You can bet we’ll visit Rockefeller Center. This time, she’ll show off her skating skills and I will show off my lack thereof.