I guess it is all too easy to lament – but that doesn't mean that easy can synch with what is true and right and proper – that the holiday season has become one mashing of commercialism and fighting and clawing for Black Friday deals and getting first in line, or close to first in line, for the best purchase price for some huge whatever inch flat screen TV.
Yeah, laugh at me – as well you should, maybe – that I still hold hands with and hold on to a nostalgia of the holiday and Christmas season that is tied to traditions and festivities that could and were experienced by all – and which lifted the spirits and made happy people and induced smiles – and which did not demand making big purchases at department stores.
And, as you know, in this column I try to tie whatever I write about to Easton. Yes, this is because the space in which this column runs is on Easton Patch. Yet, as well, and my editors provide me ample opportunity to exercise this expression, I write about issues that are not specific to Easton, and yet have a strong connection and relationship to Easton.
So, it was during Christmastime, 1996, and I was living in the nice neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights, maybe three quarters of a mile from the Brooklyn Bridge.
I worked in midtown Manhattan. Now, for sure, I dig New York City in a big way, and I enjoy big time hanging out and partying and playing in the metropolis. But I cannot be a New Yorker full-time, and I missed the Boston area – and, okay, let me come forth as parochial as parochial can be, I did miss Easton.
But, anyway, during the Christmas season, there was so much about New York City that was all about its shared relationship everywhere with wonder and the miracle and beauty of the season. It is energy and uplift that lives with you if you care to pay attention and embrace it.
I mean, I lived on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn Heights, a high-end neighborhood of narrow streets and nice brownstone townhouses. The neighborhood in which I lived had a strong Arabic and Muslim influence. Still, the overriding energy of those blocks of streets and buildings during the holidays was Christmas.
It brought uplift to my soul that when I stepped on to the street from the building where I lived, and looked over to that area adjacent to the intersection of Atlantic and Clinton, that there were those Christmas trees bound in string or netting, or whatever, and for sale. Christmas trees all wrapped up and for sale – that was going on in my hometown of Easton too.
And on to other incidences of Christmas spirit in New York City tied to Easton folk.
You see, in that December of 1996, as Christmas approached, I was working for a public relations firm at 75 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan, in the center of it all. Windows on the south side of the offices of the firm overlooked the famed Rockefeller Plaza and, during winter months, the Rockefeller Ice Rink.
Of course, one of the most famed Christmas symbols on the planet is the lit Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza.
Our firm traditionally held a party on the night that the Rockefeller Christmas tree was lit. So was the case in 1996 when I was an employee of the company.
Well, with this big party to launch, I figured it just right to have over to our offices one of my dear and closest friends, John McEvoy, a fellow Easton native and classmate of mine at St. Mark's Nursery School on Center Street in North Easton, and someone who was a major and high-powered investment banker in NYC.
John had been living in the city for a few years, and when I moved to NYC, he was a great help to me in getting me adjusted and grabbing a hold of some semblance of the lay of the land.
So there we were that night, my childhood bud and myself, standing next to each other – and around us my colleagues at this prestigioius and A-list PR firm in New York City. We listened and watched the countdown to the lighting of the tree.
And then the count reached zero … and then a few moments of delay … and then through the tree raced the lights and the illumination – and there were cheers, within the office, and throughout the plaza outside.
It was a beautiful and soul-enriching event.
And for a few precious moments, it didn't matter where I was on earth – whether watching the tree lighting at the Rockery in North Easton, or the tree lighting at Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan.
We were all drawn together and made happy in that time and place.