Because of the season, I thought it might be fun to share more stories of NYC Christmas than just my own. Here’s a lovely story of friendship from my darling roommate.
Making new friends is a weird, sort of uncomfortable challenge for a lot of people. Me, I talk too much (especially about Harry Potter) and expect people to get my humor immediately. But a whole lot of Christmas magic makes things much easier. Turns out all it takes is a whirlwind, twinkle-light, carol-filled adventure to give you that one person- who compliments all of your best and worst qualities and does planks and wall sit exercises with you over FaceTime (and gets just as excited about the newest “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” trailer as you do).
Let’s go back to December of 2009.
I was forced by my college to sing in the chorus of the Worst. Christmas. Show. Ever. This mostly entailed wearing a shapeless, rust-colored sweatshirt while singing from risers that overlooked the two-hour trainwreck that was “King Island Christmas.”
I was a sophomore in college, fresh off my first summer of acting in a Renaissance Festival; most of my time was spent fantasizing about packing up and moving to NYC, where my new, super-cool Ren faire friends lived and worked together. So, when they announced their one-night only devised Christmas show, I knew I had to go.
For three weeks, I had been sitting next to a quiet, talented freshman in rehearsal named Rachel. For three weeks, we had been clumsily working our way towards friendship. We both geeked out over Lord of the Rings, were both in long distance relationships, and most importantly, LOVED Christmas. So, on a whim, I asked if she wanted to go on a crazy Christmas adventure with me.
“ We won’t even be in the city for 12 hours.”
“We’re gonna have to lie to our director about why we’re late for call for the morning show the next day.”
“We are gonna be so tired.”
“Kristie- I said ok!”
So, on a cold Tuesday in December, my new acquaintance and I bundled up and drove to the bus station. A Megabus was sitting, waiting for people to board.
“We’re early- ours is the next one.”
“Are you sure?”
-5 minutes later-
“Are you positive?”
“Let me check the ticket…oh my God, Rachel, that’s our bus!”
As the bus pulled away, Rachel and I dashed after it and somehow caught up to it right as it was pulling out of the parking lot. We clambered on sheepishly, and were off. Not the most auspicious way to start a Christmas adventure.
Three hours later, however, we got off the bus in brightly lit, heavily decorated NYC, and made a bee-line for SantaLand at Macy’s. I had quite a few friends who worked for Santa, and had spent most of December hearing about how wonderful this place was. It didn’t disappoint. Rachel’s and my eyes widened at the dancing bears, twinkling lights, and whistling trains. The line snaked slowly through a winter wonderland overload.
When we finally got to Santa, me heart sank. I had heard tell of a man the elves dubbed “Cranky Santa.” He had a serious depletion in his jolly stores, a lack of twinkle in his eyes, and a pretty immediate need of a tic-tac. Just as luck would have it, Rachel and I ended up confessing our Christmas wishes to this man. We giggled as we left the house (“ Of COURSE we got him”), and dashed off to Rockefeller Center.
Now all those who know me recognize my obsession with twinkle lights. If your bar or restaurant has brightly colored strands outlining its windows, I will 100% be a patron there. Nothing, though, prepared me for the tree. THE tree. Rachel and I stood arm in arm, staring slack-jawed at the tree. Minutes passed. Days flew by. Decades disappeared under the twinkling and winking lights that seemed to perfectly wrap around every inch of every branch. The star lit hundreds of faces, all tilted upwards in amazement.
It was a singular moment for me. My usually buzzing brain went quiet, and I stood, side by side with a person that, 6 hours ago, I had known next to nothing about, and felt nothing but gratitude. For the tree, for my new friend, for the peace and kindness that always finds its way into the city at this time of year.
Later that night, as Rachel and I laughed and cried and clapped during my friends’ show, and sang Christmas carols with a theater full of people, I felt that same gratitude again. It stayed with me as Rachel and I sleepily boarded a bus back to reality at 6 AM. It kept me smiling through my finals that week and the daily 2-hour torture that was “King Island Christmas.” And it reappears every year as Rachel and I plan our now traditional NYC Christmas Day.
Thanks so much for sharing the Christmas love, roomie! If only there was a song about how all you need for Christmas is love and good company….oh wait, there is! “Love and Good Company” is a song my super-talented roomie co-wrote and sang!. If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of the classics (if I hear “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” one more time…) so you should check out this brand spanking new Christmas song on Spotify and iTunes!