One of my favorite seasons in New York is this time of the year! Christmas and the days leading up to New Year’s Eve are simply amazing. I would have never imagined a city could be brighter than Paris and bear ornaments more colorful than in the City of Lights. But when Christmas came around one year ago, the first significant holidays I spent in New York, I witnessed the fast change of this hectic city to a festive one – within days so to speak.
I have never really been the one who plans much for Christmas. It used to be a day spent with family and eating huge amounts of food. But last Christmas was different, of course. My family was far away. And friends came to visit me from Germany. They flew in on Christmas Eve, which is an important day in my home country. We already give presents on the evening of the 24th, as opposed to unwrapping them on the morning of the 25th. In Deutschland, this holiday also lasts until the 26th, which is the Second Day of Christmas.
So my friends flew in right when the holiday was about to start. One was jetlagged, the other joined me and my roomies in preparing a fine buffet underneath our Christmas tree. The first Christmas I actually had a Christmas tree in the place I lived (aside from living at home). We then went to the HUGE TREE in Rockefeller Center and walked around Radio City Hall and other parts of Midtown Manhattan. The Second Day of Xmas proved to be the day the biggest snowstorm of the 21st century hit New York, but that is part of another story.
My point is: Last Xmas had been good. It hadn’t been lonely and sad, but rather filled with many people, good food, and presents. This Christmas was different in some ways but nonetheless still entertaining. I spent it in Williamsburg at my friend’s house. We cooked a well-tasting sweet potato casserole together and mixed some Brussels sprouts with squash underneath it. We even made our own pumpkin pie, which tasted so good, I am inclined to make my own pies from now on!
The highlight of Christmas’ Eve was our home-made Glühwein or Glögg, whichever variation you prefer. Warm wine enriched with herbs and spices, such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, orange peels, raisins, almonds, and whatever else you desire. Ours had a bottle of Brandy in it, as well, because we made it according to a Swedish recipe. It was so good, that we drank it within two days (for four liters of alcohol that is not too bad, ay?). The first day of Christmas was a rerun of last year: Taking the train up to the Rockefeller Center, shooting pictures of the Tree, this year during daytime. I noticed, albeit it was still impressive and huge, it looked just like last year. Even the colorful decoration was the same. The tourist masses are quite annoying around that area, so we walked away, but still with the flow. Then off to the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, only four blocks away. They were about to start a mass and people seated themselves. We didn’t stay for it.
Then a surprise Christmas party at my friends’ house only 2 minutes away in Williamsburg. The newly-wed couple had made lasagna and eggplant dishes and invited their friends over for a bubbly wine party. I guess they still had a lot of leftovers from their wedding last month and wanted to share their “champagne” treats with everyone. Every guest added a bottle of sparkling wine, so that everyone was in quite a good mood when they left five hours later. We had a blast, eating the food, making fun of their adopted cats, chatting with each other, and getting to know everyone.
Ikea was open on Monday, and I got to redeem one special Christmas present: My first bed in New York! After 20 months in this city, I had never possessed a real bed. I slept on a mattress in my first apartment. A futon that you could fold in and out in twin size was my second choice of sleeping. But this time, in my new apartment, I got a full-size bed with a fancy mattress. New York almost feels like home now… It definitely is an improvement from sleeping on the floor or crappy futon quality.
The Second Day of Christmas, or rather December 26, my friend invited me to a house-party in Sunset Park. A few of the guests I knew already. Everyone brought a dish of food, except for me, I made Glühwein right there. The group consisted of a variety of different cultures and people: The Bronx-bound New Yorker who had been here forever. The German who had moved here less than two years ago. The Jewish teacher, who worked in special-ed. The Asian who liked to travel. And other characters mixed into the group. We sat together well after midnight, until everyone started to disperse into the night. Tuesday was a working day for many.
And that was pretty much how I spent Christmas this year. I got to meet many new people, dine at many different tables, and drink from many glasses.
Although I love this holiday in New York, I am unsure about New Year’s Eve. Last year I hurried out to Philly, which ended up being a phenomenously great weekend. But this year I don’t have real plans other than searching for a good party in Brooklyn. Avoiding Manhattan and those parties at which you pay 200 Dollars just to get in is my main goal for the last day of this year. And so it goes, two more days of 2011. An eventful year has come to an end and I am looking forward to an exciting 2012. May more travels, more acquaintances, more experiences happen. Which I am sure they will!
A Happy New Year to the people from WordPress!