And so it has finally arrived.
That moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life. That instant where the world stops, the earth becomes still, and you feel like you’ve finally felt that one thing you’ve always wanted to feel…in the place you wanted to feel it. Pieces of your soul float together and your heart mends in a single moment, with one little look, and one glimmer of shining, brilliant hope.
Yes, my dears, Christmas has arrived in New York.
The streets are paved with thoughts of sugarplum fairies, the windows are frosted, and people of all shapes and sizes look all-sorts-of-adorable in their mittens and their coats. But most profoundly, there is this vivid feeling surrounding the city streets and corner-lights: magic.
As soon as Macy’s finished their decorations, I wasted no time in scoping out the extravagant displays and walking through each floor to see what holiday-madness I could find. Since it is my very first Christmas in the city, I will forgive myself for acting like quite the tourist for a few weeks. And while I’m relishing in this freedom -I plan to do it in style.
To top the hat off of Macy’s cheerfulness, a friend of mine, M, asked me to be her date to Radio City Music Hall’s A Christmas Spectacular.
It was her last night in the city before moving back to North Carolina to support her family and continue down a path she was born to walk on (or strut, rather) – and we wanted to take this little island by storm before she left. Her seats were first mezzanine and center – basically the very best seats you could have gotten in the house. We decked ourselves out in Christmas-ey dresses and stockings (with heels of course) and got there early to get the full-Rockette experience.
When we walked into Radio City, my mouth about hit the floor: it was about as classically Christmas as anyone could imagine. I was surprised to not hear a jazz band playing “The Christmas Song” in the corner with a woman in a red dress leaning up against a baby-grand singing in a sultry voice. And once we sat down and the show began – I was taken back to another time in my life.
To those Christmas visions at the holiday season when you’re a child. When there is nothing more important than being good so Santa will bless you with his many toys. Where shaking boxes wrapped under the tree could take up an entire hour of your time easily. Where the first snowfall that brought the chance for a snow day was almost as great as your birthday or Christmas Day itself.
Where there was no reason to doubt magic because you just believed.
There was no questioning or wondering if you’ll get that one gift you so desperately desire -you knew it would be under the tree when you wake up at the crack of dawn. When you thought about growing up – you knew exactly what you wanted to do, no matter how absurd or unrealistically achievable it may be. You never wondered if you would get to kiss your Prince Charming underneath the mistletoe one day, and frankly, it was not really a priority – because you just knew it would happen. Everyone got happily ever after and everyone became a princess. Everyone got that mini-truck or the Barbie Dream House because why wouldn’t they?
Magic is simply guaranteed and we never really think we’ll grow up into big boys and girls, until we find ourselves as a 20-something, in the middle of Radio City Music Hall, realizing we’re completely on our own. And not only that, but for the longest time we’ve been skeptical about the splendor that we once thought would always be ours.
When do we lose that beautiful, pure, and unrelenting hope we all had as children? When do we lose that sparkle and that bubbly faith that comes with being inexperienced and out-of-tune with the functions of the so-called harsh reality of life?
As I watched the dancers, the singers, the actors, the ice skaters, and the musicians who put on literally one of the best performances I’ve ever seen – I thought about how at one time, all of them were children. Just like I was. They had big dreams and perhaps, at some point, they said unquestionably to their parents: “I’m going to be a Rockette one day!” And now, there they are– tapping out a beat on the stage they knew they’d always grace. But even so, after they bow and take off their dancing shoes backstage – they probably criticize and belittle their achievements or their talents and always think “I could have been better. I could be more entertaining. I’ll never get to my full potential.” Or maybe the man they were seeing promised to show up and even though they are a smokin’ Rockette or an incredibly talented figure skater – he decided to cancel at the last minute.
Do we stop believing in the promise of magic because somewhere along the way, we allow our spark to be put out? Because we start analyzing and comparing ourselves to others or dwell on the idea of absolute perfection? Or when we get a glitch in our hearts, we decide feeling that immense all-consuming feeling of falling in love is impossible in the future?
As I watched the show, listened to the words, and thought back on my wild and wonderful hopefulness as a little girl, I thought: what’s the harm in believing?
Everyone tells me not to have expectations because then if something even half-way good happens, I will be pleasantly surprised. But what if instead of being satisfied with the ordinary, I actually gave myself permission to believe that the extraordinary was a true and real possibility?
I left Radio City with a swollen heart completely in awe of the city I live in and the stage of my life I’m blessed to be exploring and experiencing. M and I walked to Rockefeller Center and it was almost as the heavens rained down magic for this special night. As we walked around, I witnessed every stage in my life: there was a little girl with her best friend and their moms, smiling for the camera with curls and bows in their hair and saying “Ice skating!!” And then we walked a little further and saw a group of high school girls and boys infamously flirting with one another on and off the ice. There were groups of twos and threes, solos and families – all skating on the same rink, in the same direction – but at completely different points in their lives.
Leaving the center, we looked at each other, with this sense of knowing we were talking towards our futures in some majestic way, to whatever stage may come next. And sure enough, there was a limo, signifying sure success, and a couple stealing a kiss on the corner of the block, showing us that believing in magic maybe isn’t such an outlandish idea, after all.
Does believing hinder my growth? Or my self-proclaimed recovery? Does relishing in the soft cloud of hope make me vulnerable for falling to a slow, painful, heart-breaking demise? Nah, I think it just gives me a power above the rest. It keeps that youthful, inexorable glow that we all have as children but let go of a little more with each Christmas we experience.
I will never be able to see through the same pair of eyes I looked through as a child, or as a teenager, or even the me I was before I moved to Manhattan. But if I keep this reminder of hope inside of me, at this very special time of the year (and always) – maybe those visions I dreamt of, those kisses under the mistletoe I’ve longed for, those holiday parties I’ve wanted to attend at the magazine of my dreams – will become more than a image in my mind. But rather, they will grow out of the magic already burning inside into something even more outstanding: my reality.