As a boy I grew up in Jersey City, not far outside of New York City. The distance from our apartment to the World Trade Center was virtually the same as between Hays and Lehman. While New York City captured the imagination of millions of people worldwide, for those of us who lived and breathed it regularly life was a daunting task. The eternal rat race and high cost of living often compounded the chip on the shoulder everyone had.
This attitude was exacerbated by the arrival of winter. Just as heat was known to make people a little crazy, the cold would make everyone a bit more angry. Understandable if you’ve ever bundled up several layers in your home with the heat blasting, then stepped outside for a frigid walk to the subway only to get to the station or on the train and be blasted with steaming air and body heat, all while wrapped in layers making your body temp akin to the surface of the sun, and then get off the train and walk through the blustery wind of the city to your office, and upon arrival be met, yet again, with sub Saharan heat pouring from the air system, still in your many layers. The flux between hot and cold is enough to make anyone crazy.
However, with the dawn of winter came the promise of the holidays. The true miracle of Christmas was that for a brief period, New York found itself magically transformed. Yes, into a winter wonderland of grand decoration and spirit but most importantly into a selfless, charitable, good tempered oasis amidst the bustling Northeast Corridor. While this infectious spirit belied the true nature of the Big Apple, those who partook in city festivities relished the December detente.
So what is it about the holiday season that could turn the icy hearts of New York into warm, caring souls? I think, in part, it was the decoration. The decoration on all the buildings and storefronts, hanging over the streets, flooding the windows and advertisements, all serve as a persistent reminder of that holiday spirit. They were daily reminders that you’re supposed to be kind, and neighborly, and respectful during the holidays. The shine of the lights, the smell of the trees and wreaths, the happy and thankful messages everywhere you looked all evoked a sense of joy, of appreciation and a shared sense of community. It didn’t matter if, or what, you celebrated; the season was a celebration of us, of each other, and how incredibly grateful we are to have that.
Now, this brings me to Kyle.
Normally my family travels for the holidays, so lights and decorations remain hidden somewhere tucked away in the garage. However, this year thanks to COVID, a baby and being new homeowners we’ll be remaining here in the safe confines of our home, which means the chances of decorating a home for the first time have exponentially increased. The tree, the lights, the blow-up Christmas dachshund.
I’ve always lived in apartments, and the idea of stringing lights across an entire home seems far beyond my skills or my patience but hey, ‘tis the season. What I mean to say is that I have a deep appreciation for the task. So, I am amazed by those who’ve put in long hours of work turning areas of our little town into mini winter wonderlands akin to the big one I grew up with.
The town square has erected a beautiful collection of displays, worthy of your next holiday card picture. (Save your thoughts on the new tree for another post, we are filled with holiday spirit on this one, Grinches.) Neighbors all over town have transformed their homes, blocks and entire subdivisions into showstopping displays of epic proportion.
I am truly, sincerely astounded by the ingenuity of some of our most creative neighbors, all in the name of holiday spirit. And to what end? Well, that same knowledge I learned about Christmas time in New York; that large, overtly fantastic displays of holiday spirit warm our cold November hearts and make us realize and renew our faith in a friendly, neighborly, kind and caring community. In the words of Roy Wood, I wish it were Christmas every day.