Christmas time presents me with the perfect opportunity to write a love letter to New York City. As mentioned previously, I have not really missed living there…until this month. As my thoughts turn to December 25thand all its accoutrements, I am suddenly incredibly homesick for my former home. I am very much missing all the joyous sights and sounds of NYC during the holidays. The city really knows how to celebrate this time of year and the best part is that so much of what is wonderful about it is free! All you need is a warm coat and comfortable shoes (gloves, scarf, and a cup of hot chocolate are also advised) to experience the magic.

First event, the 5th Avenue stroll. My boyfriend and I made it an annual Christmas tradition to walk up the storied avenue one night in December starting at Bryant Park on 42nd Street, pausing in the middle to ogle the Rockefeller Christmas tree, that justly famous fir, and ending at The Plaza Hotel on Central Park South: 17 blocks of twinkling lights of every hue, glittering trees, bedecked wreaths, beribboned garlands, sparkling ornaments, shining stars, whimsical department store windows and Christmas carols wafting through the air. (There are also a zillion tourists and maddening crowds of shoppers but I promised myself this would be the positive side of NYC, so enough said. And actually, the crowds are mostly festive too. It’s hard to be a grumpy New Yorker in the face of such Christmas merriment. Like all the songs say, there really is something special in the air this time of year in the city.)

But my very favorite event of the Christmas season in New York City is the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. It is not free but worth every penny! It is the perfect festive holiday outing. An artisan from Kentucky creates scale models of every famous New York City landmark and historical building out of natural materials (leaves, bark, berries, nuts, stones, etc…) which are placed among the plants (in the gorgeous crystal palace of a conservatory/greenhouse built in 1902), with toy trains running alongside and twinkling lights everywhere. It is a magical experience. It is a must-see for kids from 1-92.

And then there is the eggnog. Yes, you read that correctly. I miss New York eggnog made by Ronnybrook Farms! Ronnybrook is a small family-owned farm about 2 hours from the city that produces only high quality dairy products. And this, in my opinion is their crown jewel. It is the definitive eggnog, the gold standard. Creamy, fragrant Christmas deliciousness in a glass.

I do confess that even though I always enjoyed seeing the city’s Christmas sights prior to meeting my love, the rush and crush of the crowds usually made me into a Scrooge. I looked more forward to leaving the city for calmer climes than relishing the city’s holiday offerings. However, sharing Christmas time in the city with my love allowed me to see the city’s wonders again and in some ways for the first time.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.