It hasn't snowed yet in New York City, and to be honest it hasn't even gotten truly cold. We're almost midway through December, the city is decked out in twinkling lights and holiday parties are in full swing, but the weather feels strangely mild. I have to admit, I found it totally confusing to watch the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting festivities when it was warm enough to walk around in only a light sweater. Is this what the holidays feel like in warmer climates?? Without crisp air and picturesque flurries to set the holiday scene, I'm especially grateful for the annual traditions that get me in the holiday spirit. Here are a few of my particular favorites:
- Christmas movie night in: My fiancé and I set aside one weekend night to stay in and watch a holiday movie. There's no decorating or to-do lists for the night, we just order dinner in and make hot chocolate. Our rotation so far includes Love Actually (okay, that's my pick), Elf, and White Christmas.
- Annual girls' brunches and dinners: My hometown girlfriends get together for brunch each year on Christmas Eve morning. Most of us are back in town, and we've zeroed on that slot as time that nearly everyone can carve out of family commitments. My college girlfriends have developed a similar tradition of doing a festive dinner the week before heading home. For me, the best traditions always involve spending time with my people.
- Stollen and Panettone: Each year, I take home two seasonal sweet breads, a German Christmas stollen and Italian panettone. Both are rich and buttery, although the stollen is dense (with a marzipan center - yum!) while the panettone is lighter and studded with candied fruits. I usually pick them up at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's before heading home to Ohio. Upon arrival, they get set out for everyone to indulge in over the course of the holiday week.
- An evergreen wreath on the door: Everywhere I've lived (over many years in NYC) has been adorned with a fresh evergreen wreath on the door. I love the smell of pine, and it makes me smile upon getting home. I've often picked up a basic version from the Christmas tree stands on NYC tree stands, but I also love the LL Bean wreaths (which I've also sent to far-flung family members).
Each of these traditions, plus a constant feed of Christmas music, contributes to my sense that the holiday season is happening, even when the weather doesn't set the scene. However you celebrate, I hope that you have a tradition (or many) that you savor!
One of my favorite holiday season brunches was two years ago when we took refuge at Hudson Clearwater during a very snowy Christmas shopping excursion. The West Village is always quaint, but never more so than in the snow!