Blog: Hark! The Herald Square Angels Sing

By Taylor Griffin

It’s beginning to look a lot like a metropolitan Christmas. Seriously, everywhere you go.

They began preparing for this blessed season weeks, perhaps months, in advance, and since November 1, Christmas has quickly risen to the surface all over the city.

My daily walk to work is the perfect example of this occurrence. The Hallmark that greets you as you walk from the subway looks like its own holiday pop-up book. A look around the pharmacy below 30 Rock is the most excellent representation of the American Christmas spirit. The juxtaposition of the 15 cent forgotten Reese’s pumpkins next to the glittery full-price Christmas confections that have been sitting there about the same amount of time as the pumpkins is downright comical. As soon as one holiday approaches, we’re already concerned about the next two following it.

As lovely as the bazaar in Bryant Park and the handful of ice skating rinks are, it also means an influx—explosion, more like—in the tourism. I’ve already explained my angst with visitors as a wannabe New Yorker, but it doesn’t take a born and bred Yankee to feel the headache as well.

I watch droves of visitors swell in and out of our neighbor building, Radio City Music Hall, buzzing with glee to watch the Rockettes perform their celebrated Christmas Spectacular on the most radiant stage in the world. A further walk around the building reveals the heaving cluster of folks getting their share look at the upcoming famous Rockefeller Christmas tree as well as the swarms falling face first on the ice skating rink. Lucky for them, Fifth Avenue is directly east of the Plaza, a perfect opportunity to buy expensive things. But isn’t that why people flock to the Big Apple for the holidays? Everyone loves the brisk air amid the spectacle of the flickering lights and sparkling consumerism. Breathtaking.

Besides the surge of tourism, perhaps my deepest regret of the impending bustle of the holidays is the fact that I must forgo my annual violent Black Friday excursion. Normally around this time of year, I’ve already created an Excel spreadsheet with a battle plan of my top stores, as well as a plan B just in case a door buster falls through. One year I searched tirelessly for best deal on a 50-piece Rubbermaid container set—it’s all about the thrill of the hunt. That same year, I just about furnished my entire apartment in one evening plus added another row of DVDs to my shelf. That year was probably my best work; I’ve never met a bargain I didn’t like.

Black Friday is practically nonexistent in the city, particularly and unfortunately for someone in my circumstance. For one thing, the nearest Walmart is roughly six miles from my apartment, a bit longer than a subway could take me. Plus, the pretty penny I’d have to fork over to ship my treasures home would negate the loads money I saved. Although, I could only imagine how nuts the world’s largest store, Macy’s (a.k.a. 10 floors of buyer suicide), would be. Note to self: avoid Herald Square the weekend of Thanksgiving at all costs.

Truly, though, I am happy to be free of the “obligation” of Black Friday and simply enjoy the dropping temperatures and approaching holiday festivities with new and old friends. The cold hurts my face on my walk to work, but I love to stroll at a slower pace on the way home, taking in every glimpse of the twinkling lights delicately hung in the trees and the faint carols coming out of department stores. Don’t even get me started on the Central Park area—magical.

The best part of the entire sensory experience is knowing that it’s just begun, and I can’t wait to see this already wonderful place transform into its own winter wonderland. Though it is just the start of the season, the city is exactly the way the movies portray it; without a doubt, it’s a wonderful life.