Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas in the City

(We each had tea in pastel-colored pots and china tea cups)
I had been wishing to see the Radio City Christmas show, so this year I was on it in August, asking my daughter, Meredith, and daughter-in-law, Marlie, about December dates.  I know to get tickets early, if I want a certain time on a certain day at the height of the season. By Thanksgiving, Meredith and Marlie were brainstorming ideas for what additional activities we would do on the day of the show.

(tasty tea, scones, sandwiches, and cookies)

The months flew by, and the holiday season arrived. Meredith met me at Port Authority. We walked to Bryant Park to see the sights, and then took the subway to meet Marlie at Alice's Tea Cup, a cute cafe on the Upper East Side. Alice's Tea Cup is a favorite with little girls and for children's parties, but its tasty sandwiches and huge tea selection also make it popular as a destination for bridal or baby showers, or for women like us out for a visit over tea and lunch in a festive environment.  We spent a relaxed couple of hours there. Our conversation ran the gamut.

( Like the three-year-old we saw at the next table, Meredith, Virginia, and Marlie sport fairy wings at Alice's Tea Cup, just for fun)

Eventually it was time to head down to Radio City for the show. Just being in this art deco theater is a treat, but our attention soon turned to the show's opening act, a captivating performance with the Rockettes as Santa's reindeer. Although some acts were familiar, like the classic toy-soldiers routine performed every year since the first show in 1933, much has changed over time, especially in recent decades with advanced stage lighting and special effects.

Two acts stood out for me.  One included the back drop of Central Park with skyscrapers beyond in evening lights, and skaters on the pond in the foreground.  Another was an act including a double-decker bus, filled with Rockettes, who "travel" through the city seeing all the sights.  It was fun to recognize so many familiar places all portrayed in their holiday finest. And who could resist the 3D arrival of Santa early in the program, and the live Nativity at the end? The Christmas show is truly "a spectacular."

Cameras are not allowed in the theater, but, as we left, I was permitted to use my phone to take this picture of the theater's Christmas tree, in the brilliant splendor of Swarovski crystal snowflakes.

Leaving Radio City, we headed over to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree.  Along the way we passed these flags at the skating rink, shimmering in silver and gold, a change from the usual international flag display.

Walking around the corner to get a better view of the tree, we came across dancing Salvation Army volunteers.  With music playing, they attracted much attention, which hopefully added money to their coffers.  Their method of keeping warm drew smiles from all who passed by.

As always, the tree shone with its 45,000 LED lights.

Lit angels and shrubbery formed a glittering aisle from the street, and Saks Department Store in the background stood draped in swags of gold. We watched the skaters for a few more minutes and then turned towards Fifth Avenue.

We debated which window decorations to see. With Saks right across the street, we began there. Walking by displays of mannequins dressed in exquisite evening wear, we soon saw themed portraits of fairy tales in "An Enchanted Experience."  What would happen if fairy tale characters came to New York?

Red riding hood might forget all about her mission when she entered her grandmother's bedroom, and said, "My what a big suite you have!"

(Grandmother has a pretty nice apartment!)

Sleeping Beauty "had a hard time adjusting to the city that never sleeps."

(Sleeping Beauty is still awake when Prince Charming arrives.)

And Cinderella? She "fell madly in love with a pair of designer shoes!"

(Cinderella isn't going to be happy with a glass slipper anymore!)

We continued up Fifth Avenue, passing Bergdorf's windows "A celebration of the arts," Tiffany's elegance, and more.  Eventually we boarded the subway with a destination of Union Square.

Although Union Square boasts what we consider to be the best Christmas Markets in the city, it is also home to the Whole Foods store where Marlie is the bakery team leader.  Marlie's business degree and experience in public relations in Manhattan, combined with being a pastry chef from the French Culinary Institute, led her here last year. Union Square's Whole Foods is the busiest in the chain.  Now, Marlie is creating dessert recipes for the Union Square store.  I had heard that her "Marlie-Made" truffles were to die for.

(Union Square bakery staff makes Marlie's recipes daily.  She comes up with new recipes for each season.)

She bought us each a truffle which we took out to the street, and, oh yeah, that crunchy outside and creamy chocolate inside were beyond delicious.  Although I like to bake, and I like to bake with chocolate, anytime Marlie wants to move into my house and become my personal baker, I'll gladly hang up my apron!

(Marlie-made truffles could be addictive!)

Across the street on the Square, Christmas Market booths were set up with red and white awnings and swags of greens across the pathways.  Colored lights and balls hung in festive display in front of each booth.  Shopping options are a myriad of socially conscious, hand-crafted, fair trade, local and international products. It would be easy to find a gift for every person on your list--if you had no budget limitations.

(Union Square Christmas markets are a festive December destination)

And there are foods.  Marlie took us to the Doughnuttery mini-doughnut booth where tiny cider doughnuts dropped into hot oil. Customers could choose flavored-sugar toppings. We chose "Paris time"--lavender, pistachio, vanilla--and "Urban Monkey"--coffee, banana, coconut. A bag of six little doughnuts was just right for the three of us.

(The Empire State Building shines in the distance at Union Square)

The day was passing, and I had a 6:30 bus to catch.  With limited time remaining, we decided that we should walk a few blocks and get a drink.  To round out our nutritious afternoon, we chose hot chocolate from The Bean.  Then the three of us each headed in different directions:  Marlie to Chelsea to meet a friend, Meredith home to Brooklyn, and I to Port Authority to catch my Greyhound bus to Albany. What a fun and festive start this had been to the holiday season!

(Fun in the city with my two favorite young women)


  1. Sounds like a great day in the city

  2. That is the most decadent Christmas story I have ever read--Good for You! It sounds wonderful. My only Christmas story was being on the 34th floor of the New Yorker, in a room whose number ended in 34, and looking down at a blizzard falling onto 34th street. I decided then that if I became a rich old lady my permanent residence would be at the New Yorker.