Holidays in NYC are my favorite and luckily they start right after Thanksgiving so you can appreciate everything holiday-related that Manhattan has to offer, before hightailing it out of there for actual Christmas. The sidewalks are lined with Christmas tree farms, the parks are filled with artisans selling holiday gifts and the Empire State Building does a special light show every night.
For kids, Santaland at Macy’s is always a good place to start, especially since they now offer reservations which means you don’t have to wait on the walk-in line.
Mazzy and Harlow know there are fake Santas out there but fully believe that Macy’s is home to the “real Santa.” Although, this was the first year that Mazzy was pretty sure being Jewish meant that he wasn’t visiting our house.
“How’s he going to know to come if we don’t have a tree, Mom????”
Regardless, Mazzy jumped right on Santa’s lap and told him she wanted a Lego & Friends Hotel for Christmas.
Harlow refused to get on Santa’s lap so she shouted that she wanted a Lego & Friends Airport from across the room. I honestly have no idea where she got the airport idea and had to google it when we got home to see if it was a real thing. IT WAS.
Then Harlow agreed to take a photo with Santa if I posed with her, which meant I had to rely on the professional Macy’s photographer. Everyone stayed still and looked pretty decent, but the professional photo came out blurry anyway. Which just goes to show you that moms really can’t get anything accomplished unless they do it themselves. Thanks a lot, Macy’s!
My nephew Jack (who came with us) wouldn’t go anywhere near Santa, so my sister got no photo whatsoever. We did get a lovely Santa-free picture altogether with the kids though.
Then we trekked over to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. Harlow fell asleep on the way.
She woke up in time for the light show on Saks Fifth Avenue, which is set to music, plays every ten minutes and is always my favorite.
Harlow was mesmerized. I believe I have almost the exact same pic of Mazzy watching the light show for the first time, wearing the exact same hat.
Another favorite thing of mine to do in NYC during Christmas is visit the Union Square Holiday Market.
It’s great for gifts, only a few blocks away from our apartment, and they’ve got better and better food stalls every year. Here’s Harlow showing off a mini doughnut from the Doughnuttery.
If you got a gift from me this holiday, it was most likely from there.
On the 22nd, we packed up the family and headed to the house to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas on Long Island. My sister and her family came too. As I was packing up my presents, Mazzy came into my room. My closet door was open and she spied something inside.
“Mom! It’s the Mensch on the Bench! I found him in your closet!”
Just when I thought the jig was up, she yelled, “He must have come back because it’s almost Hanukkah!!!”
She was amazed again at the house when the Mensch appeared there too. “It came all the way from the city!!!” And even more surprised when a Giant Bubbe showed up on the first day of Hanukkah. (The Mensch on the Bench people asked me if I wanted them to send the giant Mensch again. I said yes, but they sent the Bubbe instead. A surprise to me too.)
“WHAT’S THAT???!!!!” Mazzy shouted when she woke up to it sitting on the couch.
“I think it’s the Mensch on the Bench’s mom!”
Harlow spent most of the holiday riding Bubbe like a horse.
Later that day, I put on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the kids to watch.
“Is this a real story, Mom? ” Mazzy asked.
“Uhhhh…what do you think, Mazzy?”
Mazzy thought about it for a moment. “I think it’s a real story because Rudolph is a REAL reindeer.”
Is it normal for a seven-year-old to still believe in this stuff??? I’m gonna go with yes and I LOVE IT. Here are some unicorn headbands that were gifts from my assistant Allie. For what it’s worth, Mazzy believes in unicorns too.
This year, the first night of Hanukkah was on Christmas Eve, which worked really nicely. I even decided to make a last minute tree purchase that day. It was the smallest tree I could find and I bought it at a nursery so we could plant it after the holidays instead of toss it. Mazzy was so excited when I brought it home.
“But we don’t have lights, Mom!”
“I got lights!” I held up a box of colored bulbs.
“But what about a star???”
“We can make a Jewish Star out of pipe cleaners!”
“That’s perfect, Mom. I’ll get the stuff.”
Then we fashioned one together and Mazzy put it on the top.
“This is my first Christmas tree,” she said.
I told her it was my first tree too. “But let’s call it a Hanukkah bush.”
Harlow spent the rest of the day making her own Hanukkah decorations, which were abstract pipe cleaner creations that she taped to the windows. I wish I had a picture.
After dinner, we lit the menorah, which Harlow made herself in preschool out of clay and nuts. She was so proud.
Then we opened our first night of Hanukkah presents. I got all the kids (plus my brother-in-law) t-shirts that light up when you play music. They work best in the dark so we ended up having a little dance party in the bathroom.
Next, we switched back to Christmas mode and the kids put out carrots, a cookie and an apple for Santa. “He should eat healthier,” Mazzy explained to me.
The kids were more than a little bit wound up before bed.
Then Mike started to relight the fire and Mazzy started screaming. “NO!!!! You can’t have a fire if you want Santa to come down the chimney!” I promised her the grown-ups would put it out before we went to sleep. Waking up to a burning old man in our fireplace would definitely not be a good way to kick off Christmas.
The next morning, Mazzy woke up at about 6am when it was still dark out. She got me to come downstairs with her and immediately noticed that Santa’s presents used the same wrapping paper as ours.
“Yeah, well, ummmmm….. I left our wrapping paper out for him in case he needed some.”
“Oh, okay. That makes sense.”
Pretty soon, Harlow and Jack and the rest of the family joined us in the living room to open presents and go through their stockings.
Did I mention I got stockings? I actually bought them for a sponsored post a few weeks ago and then decided, “Why not use them?” I put Hanukkah gelt and a dreidel inside along with band-aids, toothbrushes, and a few toys from the dollar store.
Santa got Mazzy the Lego Hotel and Harlow the Lego Airport as they had requested.
Then I had to tell them that they couldn’t open them until Jack and Neve left a few days later because Neve could choke on the pieces. They didn’t like that at all. They also got a bunch of unintentionally ’80s themed presents like Simon, a Monchichi and a Slinky.
Here are the girls trying and failing to make the slinky walk down the stairs. I remember it being much easier when I was a kid.
We spent the majority of Christmas day hanging out in our Christmas jammies. They were sent to us as a gift from Roberta Roller Rabbit so it seems like this whole blogging thing is really sending us down a Christmas rabbit hole. I don’t mind.
We also tried our hand at gingerbread houses, which were complicated by the fact that each side of Mazzy’s house came broken in three pieces.
The girls were more interested in sneaking candy than building the houses anyway.
At 4pm, we finally got dressed and headed to the beach to watch the sunset.
In the beach parking lot, a man in a Santa cap drove up in an awesome red race car and Mike told me that’s what he wants for Hanukkah.
I told him, “Too bad because the kids bought you a banana coin purse,” which is true.
Then we watched the sunset and Mike tried to take a good photo of me with the girls.
That was the best we could do.
I have to say, as much as we embraced Christmas this year, I think Mazzy and Harlow are still more excited about Hanukkah.
For starters, we’ve still got two more days left and each night the girls can’t wait to “do Hanukkah.” Obviously they are excited by the presents, but they also fight over who lights the Shamash candle and who says the prayers.
The girls have been singing Hanukkah songs constantly (as well as making up their own) and request Hanukkah themed bedtime books and shows on TV. Also, Mazzy nearly threw a fit when she thought the Mensch had disappeared and couldn’t come back with us to the city. (I had just packed him to surprise her once we got there.)
And lastly, just look at this photo of Harlow taking a selfie with her fake dollar store phone in front of her handmade menorah.
That girl knows which holiday really belongs to her and she loves everything about it.
To my Super Jews, that menorah (and the day’s worth of oil that supposedly burned for eight nights) is just as magical as Santa.