December 13, 2010

It's Christmas Time in the City...

Well, during my trip into Manhattan this past weekend, I didn't hear silver bells on every street corner, though I could smell plenty of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. :)

With Saturday being forecast as the last warm day of December and Jack Frost barely nipping at my nose, I took the subway uptown to 110th Street to see the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The facade of this amazing structure dominated my field of vision as I turned the corner at Amsterdam Avenue. As I stepped through the 18-feet high bronze doors, I arrived in the nave of the largest cathedral in the world. Colossal granite columns towered over me, seeming to touch the heavens. I was surrounded by magnificent stained glass windows, beautiful tapestries, and ornate Romanesque architecture. I was lucky to be present at a time when the choir was performing. Their voices echoed through the cavernous corridors. 

In the foyer stands the Peace Tree. Every year at Christmas, the Cathedral decorates a huge pine tree with handmade paper cranes. It is a lovely sight and a beautiful tradition. I was glad to be seeing it for the first time. Everything about my visit to the Cathedral of Saint John was just awe-inspiring.

From the Cathedral, I traveled to the very opposite end of Central Park to visit Dylan's Candy Bar at E. 60th Street and 3rd Avenue where I had to wait on a 5-minute line just to enter the building. Once inside, I discovered three floors of fun in a Candyland-like atmosphere. I huge buffet line of candy bins stands where one can fill plastic bags by the scoop with candies ranging from the classics to the unusual. I opted to try a few new things such as mango gummybears, root beer twizzlers, and peanut butter malt balls...

From this sugar-coated wonderland, I walked two blocks to the toy wonderland of FAO Schwarz where I once again stood on line just to enter the building. I strolled into a world of stuffed animals, snowflakes, and toy soldiers. There are life-sized replicas of Santa Claus and Chewbacca made entirely of Legos. In one room, the world's largest piano stretches across the floor (as seen in the Tom Hank's classic "Big").

I bought only one item at FAO Schwarz, a CD called "Putumayo: Christmas Around the World." It's a wonderful collection of Christmas songs done in various International styles: Latin, Celtic, Steel Drums, etc.

From there, I began my annual stroll down Fifth Avenue to check out all of the Christmas decorations and store windows, the best of which, in my opinion, is always Bergdorf Goodman. The mysterious and vivid fantasy worlds that they create behind the glass enchant me year after year.

There is nothing quite like a New York City Christmas. Some other beautiful sights along Fifth Avenue are the windows at Barney's, Saks, Lord & Taylor, and Macy's. Also noteworthy are the UNICEF Snowflake suspended over the intersection at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the sea of votive candles that adorn the steps of the New York Public Library.

The last stop on my Christmas Tour of Manhattan was at Rockefeller Center to see the big tree! As I returned to Long Island on the train after 10 hours of walking in the city, I was exhausted, but it was well worth it. This was truly a festive day that gave me all kinds of joyful feelings. Love & light...

"I am coming to you now, but I say these things
while I am still in the world, so that they may have
the full measure of my joy within them."

~John 17:13