Silver Bells

Part of my relationship with the Christmas season can be explained, not with food or family, but with a song.

I grew up in Massachusetts. The Northeast is a good place to be for "traditional" Christmas: We usually got snow, my parents' house was set back in the trees, we had a big fireplace for Santa's presents, and there were the occasional town or school parties that actually had things like carols.

However, my favorite part of my parents' Christmas tradition was driving into Boston for one night to see the lights on Boston Common and the animatronics in the store windows. We would also drive around the smaller urban areas nearby, wherever there were lighting displays and holiday music in the streets.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air, There's a feeling of Christmas

My second favorite part of Christmas was music, and my favorite song since I got too old for Rudolph (at about 6) was Silver Bells.

Originally it may have started because Silver Bells was one of the only secular songs in my Mom's Christmas for the Piano book that I both recognized and could play. It has grown into something a bit more.

Children laughing, People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on ev'ry street corner you'll hear

There's also perhaps something to the fact that I was raised on Sesame Street.  Even though I didn't live in the city, I had an idea what it would be like, and I was in Boston or Providence just often enough for cities to be familiar, but not so frequently to become jaded by them. City life, to me, was as exciting and adventurous. Plus, for a kid involved in theater from a young age the occasional trip to NYC was simply magic.

Silver bells silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring a ling hear them sing
Soon it will be Christmas day

I love living in New York City at Christmastime. I love gaudy light displays and I love snow on twinkly lights. The whole idea of the Christmas Card aesthetic: little cottage in the snow with a fire and stars overhead... that's nice too, but give me Times Square decked out for the season.

Strings of street lights, Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush
Home with their treasures

I love finding decorations in odd corners of the city. The idea that everything is part of the season, is part of the rush. Coming upon windows I don't expect to be decorated, or the street theater inherent in masses of people all moving to a few destinations.

Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch
This is Santa's big scene
And above all this bustle, You'll hear

Yes, by January it will be slushy and gray, and the wind tunnels created by the skyscrapers will start torturing the populace. I'll start to miss living in the woods come February. But even though I've lived in or near cities for close to 7 years now, I still get giddy and excited whenever I see the city all done up in lights.

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
Soon it will be Christmas day