Monday, November 29, 2021

I'm Dreaming of a Paris Christmas

 Q: If you could spend whatever winter holiday you celebrate anywhere in the world, where would you be? Close your eyes and describe the scene.

- from Susan


My answer might be different every year. As an adult, I’ve spent Christmases in Bali, Paris (twice), Santa Fe, The Big Island of Hawai’i, and New York City. Every place did it differently. The Balinese have strong spiritual practices but at Christmas, they’re only catering to Westerners, so it’s all ersatz, decorative, with a desire to please. Santa Fe is famous for farolitos (candles in paper bags) that stud the tops of walls, line pathways, and make for a sensational show against the adobe. Spanish and Pueblo cultures aren’t the same at all, but they co-exist nicely. I think the corn dance we went to around New Year’s day at the Taos Pueblo is a winter dance.


It’s something they do in Hawaii: use every holiday excuse to set off fireworks. In the evening – and this took place on Christmas night the year we were there - people bring out their beach chairs, make spiked rum punch, and enjoy the cacophony. The kids dance around madly, screeching. No “Silent Night” here!


New York’s my hometown, and the holiday magic is familiar to everyone. I recall my wobbly ice skating evening with Tim at Rockefeller Center’s rink, incredible, animated, musical store displays, waltzing to a full orchestra in the main lobby of Grand Central Station, and an incredible roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner at the kind of restaurant you go to only on rare occasions.


But if I could choose right now, it would be Paris. Sometimes it snows. There are chestnut sellers and accordion players on the little bridge behind Notre Dame. There are lovely decorations – often in colors we don’t associate with Christmas – pink, blue, silver – and the huge atrium and dome inside Galleries Lafayette, concerts in old stone churches, fabulous, warm food everywhere, and that je ne sais quoi that is Parisians at their most Parisian. And the presents for sale! Such artistry, luxe, beauty. Bonus: It snowed on Christmas Eve once, big, dry flakes that tumbled down slowly and created as much more magic as we could stand! 

Ah, yes, Paris it is in my 2021 dreams. 
Joyeux Noël!

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