A quarantined Christmas in New York City | The Daily Star
10:28 AM, December 25, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:53 PM, December 25, 2020

A quarantined Christmas in New York City

The closest I got to a white winter Christmas was with movies such as Home Alone, The Princess Switch, The Grinch and The Polar Express. Then,  I moved to New York City, USA, in early 2020. Despite the difficult times, the Christmas spirit still awakens as the year wraps up.

Winter activities may be limited this year but still people, in their masks, rush about to buy Christmas gifts, glide on ice in skating rinks and enjoy virtual performances such as George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Within quarantine boundaries, certain activities still prevail. The sights of dreamlike decorations is one of them.

Flickering lights of gold, silver, red and green adorn the malls, parks and the homes of many — imagine the shimmering light decor of Bangladesh's wedding streets and wedding centers, but with inflatable Santa Clauses, tinsel snowmen, wire reindeers with incandescent lights, lit candy cane paths and gorgeous towering evergreen trees dressed in ornaments, ribbons and more lights.

The houses of  Dyker Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood captures this colourful festive luminosity. Every year Dyker Heights attracts tourists and this year was no exception. Wandering through this fantastical neighbourhood amongst swarming crowds while maintaining the six feet distance may be somewhat sapping, but the splendor of the splattered neons makes it all worthwhile.

Other main attractions of New York City this season include Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show, The Vessel and more. These places are illuminated in gold and white as traditional Christmas songs play in the background. A stroll through these places brings smiles to the faces of adults and children alike.

As people embellish the city with Christmas items, Mother Nature embellishes the city with snow. A drizzle of snow fell in New York City on 9th December, then a winter storm hit on the 16th and 17th, with upto 12 inches of snowfall. As the ground was blanketed in crisp white and snowflakes continued to twirl down, the reflected light made the night bright. It felt like nature left the outside light switch on, as I drifted off to sleep looking through the lucent window.

Along with the mesmerising sight, the snow meant tough responsibilities of shoveling snow to clear pedestrian paths, sidewalks and driveways. While this might be a burdensome task to many, you can't argue that the snow still adds to the Christmas spirit.

As someone who does not really celebrate Christmas, the holiday season still reaches my home. The TV commercials bring in Christmas melodies, the burning pinewood candle mimics the scent of a fresh Christmas tree, the early presents I received remind me ''tis the season of giving" and through the window frame, I see children playing in the snow. Even the snacks recently bought have a touch of Christmas spirit; the M&Ms I pour out, coincidentally on December 16th, are a flurry red and green only.

I have only experienced white Christmases vicariously through fiction before. This year however, when the city that never sleeps fell asleep amidst the pandemic, the Christmas season brought the city out of slumber with a joyous and magical spirit that radiates warmth even in a cold December.

The writer is a freelance content writer, currently residing in Ozone Park, New York City.

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