Christmas spirit always brings me back to my childhood. This used to be my favorite holiday – only in former Soviet Union Christmastime is associated with New Year celebrations and less with Jesus and religion. I always awaited the holiday season with excitement, thanks to the beautiful decorations and the presents ‘Grandpa Cold’ (the Russian nickname for Santa – there he’s just a grandpa, not a ‘saint’) would put under the tree for me on the night between the 31st of December and the 1st of January.
I was always a realistic girl and I knew pretty early on that it’s my parents who supply the presents, but on the other hand I always had a secret hope that Grandpa Cold is real and he’s the one sending them. This is the story I’ve been told and it was fun to believe in it.
Ever since I made Aliyah to Israel, I’ve been on the hunt for this special holiday atmosphere and that’s why I really like visiting big foreign cities around this time of year. So, when my husband offered me to join his business trip to New York and Los Angeles, I happily accepted. When I’m writing this, I’m on the plane, seconds before leaving for L.A. it’s a shame to leave the Big Apple, as 4 days passed in an instant and I have a feeling there’s so much left to do.
Having said that, I really want to get warm already – New York was so cold I could barely enjoy it. I can hear you say it – how come you’re cold, you’re Russian! So yes, I’m from the Ukraine (not Russia – a big difference, especially nowadays) but that was 25 years ago and I already got accustomed to our israeli comfortable climate. Besides, it’s well known that New York’s winter is something else – with the wind and the humidity cold penetrates the bones until you can’t think of anything but escaping to the nearest coffee shop and drink something warm. That, plus the general grayness of the city, caused my gloomy mood at first, but on the third day the sun came out and then, just when I started enjoying the city, we had to leave.
So my first recommendation is: if you’re flying to New York, go for at least a week! Don’t forget the jetlag, something that could take you out (it did it for me!) for a couple of days.
My second recommendation: don’t come when it’s cold and rainy, it’s a bad combination. I felt it especially acutely when I was coming out of Abercrombie with shopping bags full of gifts for the kids and they simply fell apart and the clothes got wet. All this meanwhile I was trying to catch a taxi, not an easy task in this weather. For cases like this, it’s good to use UBER, Get Taxi’s competitor – it’s a very useful app in United States and booking a ride will be easy.
Third recommendation: if you can’t help but come during winter, try to opt for Christmas, so the decorations and the special atmosphere will compensate you for the weather. When I see the beauty, I can’t stop smiling.
Another thing that made me smile, while in a taxi, is a bunch of Santas yelling ‘Bacon for Santa’. Of course I had to stop and check it out, with all those fond Grandpa Cold memories. Turns out, an American food company will donate 10 holiday meals for the less fortunate for every #BaconforSanta tagged picture on Instagram. It’s a fine gesture, for the ones in need and for those who wish to see smiling Santas on the street. Of course, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to take a picture too – I posted it on my account.
Eventually, the short time and the bad weather couldn’t spoil my experience. I have more recommendations coming for you, in my next post. Meanwhile, enjoy our own fickle winter.