Welcome Back! Celebrate the Holidays in Downstate New York

Dec 13, 2021 | Travel | 0 comments

New York City knows how to do the holidays right! With everything shut down last December, things were definitely not normal in the Big Apple. This year, though Covid is nowhere near gone, New Yorkers have rallied to provide locals and tourists with a sensory overload of seasonal spirit. Our visit was short, sweet, and complete with a hefty supply of masks, hand sanitizer, and our NYS Excelsior Pass (Covid-19 Vaccination Card to the rest of you!) on our phones.

Sunday was our busiest day, full of fun, friends, and family. We began at H&H Bagels with a Nova Scotia bagel (lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato, and red onion). Next up was the Human Rights Day service at the All Souls Unitarian Church on Lexington Avenue. It was a phenomenal mix of music, readings, and proclamation and a timely reminder that Covid is not the only challenge we will continue to grapple with in 2022. Then off to lunch at Serafina (the one with the beautifully decorated hotel lobby) where nine of us gathered at a large table for a leisurely lunch (cocktails! bruschetta! octopus!) and lively conversation. It sounds so simple but when you haven’t been able to do it for some time it was a real treat.

NYC bagels

Of course, every visit to the upper West Side should include some shopping so I made sure to pop in to Rituals for some of their luxurious shower foam and hand lotion-much needed after all that disinfecting and hand-washing for the past year. And a stop at LUSH where I picked up some whimsical bath bombs and an interesting slab of soap. By then it was dark enough to walk over to Lincoln Center and see the fountain lights, after which all but three of us called it a night.

Rockefeller center tree

No trip to NYC in this last month of the year would be complete without a stop at Rockefeller Center. Though I knew it would be crowded, I had no idea how crowded until my college friend Carla, my husband, and I got to the light show at Saks. I haven’t been around so many people in what feels like a very long time but it didn’t bother me. We masked up and enjoyed the positive vibes. No one was in a bad mood, no one pushed, and though you couldn’t see their smiles, you could feel how happy people were to be out again, doing “normal” holiday things. The window displays and outdoor decorations were vibrant, music was playing loudly, and the tree (from Maryland this year) was brightly lit. It was a jubilant time!

Since it was also the last day of Hannukah, our final stop was at a Manhattan menorah to see all eight candles lit. There I had my first encounter with the Mitzvah Tank(https://www.lubavitch.com/excuse-me-are-you-jewish/) an iconic fixture on the city streets since the 1970’s. Who knew?

Our second full day my son, husband, and I walked to Little Island (by the High Line and Chelsea Market) which has wonderful views in all directions. After a stop at Washington Square Park, we lunched at Veselka, a comfortable, lively Ukrainian restaurant by NYU with awesome food. I love cabbage rolls but never make them for myself (too much work!) Between them and the perogies, I was in heaven!

Bronx Zoo holiday lights

For me, the holidays have always been a magical time, full of hope, faith, compassion, and unexpected kindnesses. A visit to New York City may not be in the cards for you this December but I hope you’ll be able to take some sort of trip, large or small, to remind yourself that, though it’s been another difficult year there is still much joy to be found during these crazy, heartbreaking times.

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