Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas comes fast upon its heels. This is a stupid arrangement. Who thought that was a good idea? “Let’s see – we have a holiday celebrated by over three-quarters of the population, involving traffic jams, mountains of food, 6 sinks of dirty dishes, and some kind of sporting event. What should we do next?” “Wait, wait, I know! Let’s do the exact same thing again in less than 4 weeks, but this time make them use their credit cards to buy gifts for people they don’t like!” “Love it. We’ll also play songs that get repeated on a yearly basis for the duration of everyone’s lifespan.” It’s magic!
I’m in no mood this year. How is that different from every other year, you may ask? True, last year I did give OxFam to everyone in the family, and was rewarded with the happy laughter of teenage daughters who get to choose a gift for someone besides themselves. This year, it’s going to be donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center in the name of Steve Bannon, donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of Mike Pence, and donations to the American Civil Liberties Union in the name of tiny-fingered Orange Warthogs.
Just because I’m a sourpuss, though, doesn’t mean everyone is! No indeed! New York City is a Christmas Wonderland, and both residents and tourists flock to the happy scene each year. Even though because I’m holed up in my bunker, feverishly preparing for the end of western civilization doesn’t mean YOU shouldn’t have a holly jolly Christmas this year.
It’s only the first week of December, but ideally you’ll have been preparing for your New York City Christmas experience since October 15th(of 2014) Be sure to hit these highlights, or you can’t tell the folks back home you experienced a real New York City Christmas.
Highlights of a Magical New York City Christmas
Missing the Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center. Missing the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center (Please don’t call it “30 Rock”) is a time honored New York City tradition that started in 1828. I made that up, but anyway, it’s been going on for a long time. We New Yorkers love Rockefeller Center – kind of – at least when there’s a flower show in the plaza. And the tree? It’s tall. Very, very tall. I’m sure it wasn’t bothering anyone, and then whammo! It gets chopped down and carted by flatbed truck to a honking huge platform right between the ice skating rink and the “Good Morning America – it’s The Jersey Boys at 8:00 a.m.” outdoor stage. If you’re the type that likes to stand in a crowd of 100,000 people all craning their necks to see some idiot throw a switch and then – Wow! Electric lights! Bet you’ve never seen THEM before! – you will be missing the true New York Christmas experience of missing the tree lighting ceremony.
Storming the Barricades on Fifth Avenue. New York is a city that is steeped in history and tradition, yet remains always young. The holiday storming of the barricades on Fifth Avenue is a tradition that just started this year, in November. You may have a legit reason to go over to 57th and 5th. I can’t think of one, but I guess it’s possible. Once you fight your way through the barricades, be sure to give the Secret Service guys a big Christmas hug, and wish the crew over at American Pravda (formerly Fox News) “happy holidays” – it drives them nuts.
Chinatown. A few years ago, a pal spilled the beans on what all those Renegade Jews have been doing on December 25th since 4 BCE. I had no idea! Instead of making a new Thanksgiving Dinner all over again only this time with a goose instead of a turkey, they see a movie and have dinner in Chinatown. This is so much fun that we’ve been doing it ever since. Since Joe’s Shanghai is getting too crowded, we varied things up a bit last year and went with an Ethiopian feast over near Columbia U.
Desperately trying to get out of town. We used to have all kinds of fun bundling the kids into a cab with all our luggage, crawling for 4 hours to JFK, watching security confiscate the kids’ jar of Play Doh, empty Al’s bag onto a large table and then not repack it, then sprinting to the gate and waiting for another 2 hours on the tarmac before winging our way to California in December, where it’s warmer, yes, but too cold to go swimming. Believe it or not, it got old and now we just stay home. See “Chinatown”.
And if you’re not too jaded, try these:
- Handel’s Messiah Sing-In: Lots of fun! Bring your own score
- Alternate Nutcrackers: You thought Balanchine was the only one? Try these on for size! The Hard Nut at BAM and Hip Hop Nutcracker uptown.
- Other Trees: Lincoln Center has two, and the one at the Met has whimsical decorations and a train. There’s a big menorah, too. The American Museum of Natural History has origami animals on its tree, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art has exquisitely detailed sculptures of medieval angels all over theirs.
- The Bronx Botanical Garden has a train show.
And best of all, every New Yorker has a friend who does gingerbread and eggnog parties. Sometimes it’s for the kids, and sometimes it’s for the adults. You can skip the gingerbread altogether, and just serve my homemade eggnog recipe. Drink enough of this stuff, and you’ll skate through Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
It’ll be January 2nd before you know it.
- 4 cups milk
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 6 eggs
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 to 3 cups of dark rum
- 4 cups light cream (or 2 cups heavy cream and 2 cups milk)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 tsp vanilla, cinnamon. Heat over low, bringing to boil. Beat eggs and yolks with sugar until fluffy. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, then pour back into pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes until it starts to thicken slightly. Let cool for 1 hour. Stir in rum, cream, 2 tsp vanilla and nutmeg. Refrigerate for 2 days. If you get one of those fancy nutmeg graters you can serve with fresh nutmeg grated over each glass.