Before leaving to study in New York back in August, I quickly lost count of the number of times that I was asked whether I’d be home for the Christmas holidays. My answer of ‘no’ was often greeted with a sense of surprise and then quickly followed by the same exclamation; ‘Christmas in New York?! Wow!’.
I guess I’d seen plenty of festive films set in the American city, including one of my all time favourites ‘Miracle on the 34th Street’ (the original black and white version is better), but I still couldn’t be sure about what to expect. As the holiday season approached, my social media feeds were quickly flooded with travel pages boasting about the idea of spending Christmas in the Big Apple, heightened with the arrival of our first snow in early November.
A few weeks later and I can confirm that the fairytale of New York really does exist, as I had the most magical Christmas here, doing everything from attending a carol service at a church on 5th Avenue to then marvelling at the grand shop windows, from a carriage ride in Central Park to seeing the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Hall. A lot of my classmates and New Yorkers appeared to think I was crazy for daring to visit the Rockefeller Christmas Tree at such a busy ‘touristy’ time of year, and their horror at the thought of it got me thinking; the fairytale only exists if you let it.
With that in mind, I hope to be a tourist in our own city when December next comes around. I vow to appreciate the Christmas lights in Oxford Street next winter, maybe even braving the crowd at the annual light switch-on, rather than sighing at the shop crowds that overflow the pavement. I am already excited to enjoy a trip to Winter Wonderland with friends, rather than worrying about the fact that the rides and food are a bit (that’s an understatement) pricey! The truth is, I think there’s very much space for the fairytale of London in all of our lives too.