NYC for the Holidays

The Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center is big. Like really big. An emblem of nature in the concrete jungle of New York City. I wonder if the evergreen feels out of place, like King Kong atop the Empire State building looking out at the sea of miniature bodies and automobiles winding through towers of business and stature. The tree stands in the name of tradition, for tourists and locals alike, who bustle past for last minute sales and ice skate with their loves ones’ under the golden statues.

Finals ended on Wednesday. After handing in my last exam, I jumped in the car with Jen and sped northwest from the small town of Lewisburg, PA to one of the largest cities in the world. My weekend was filled with holiday reminders: holiday shopping booths in Grand Central and Columbus Circle, Macy’s window displays, caroling Salvation Army volunteers with bells and hats. It was impossible not to get caught up in hussel and bussle of the city’s energy, counting down the days until December 25th. If only it was snowing…

But I felt a special connection to the traditional Norway spruce, strung with 30,000 environmentally friendly LED lights and illuminated for all to see. For one, this year’s 2011 tree was found and transported from Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania just 15 minutes from my college hometown. Both of us had traveled from the Keystone State all the way to the center of New York City to officially bring in the holiday festivities. We traveled separately but ended up at the same location, one by choice and one by fate. Which was which I wasn’t sure.

The tree also symbolized my own relationship with NYC, my simultaneous admiration for and apprehension of permanent growth and development in this urban environment. How many of my friends had moved or were moving here after college graduation? How many had dreams of becoming corporate business women, successful actor or fashionistas frequenting exclusive parties and meeting influential people in this very city? I wondered how similar I was to this beacon of holiday cheer, a being temporarily blinded by the brilliance of the city silently longing for a place to stretch my roots in an unknown world. The tree’s life in Rockefeller Center would be little more than a month–not enough time to grow a new ring around it’s grainy wooden center. But what a way to go. Loved and admired by millions of people everyday. If everyone’s last moments could be that grand.

I’m home now in upstate New York, baking gingerbread cookies and listening to Mariah’s holiday station on Pandora. Our family tree, while much smaller than it’s NYC brother, is covered in lights, tinsel, and ornaments. The branches will soon provide a home for boxes covered in bright shiny bows and bags with snowmen and smiling Santa faces. I’m knitting again, this time a dark green scarf that I hope to have done for a gift just in time. Time to be home for the holidays.