CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: An evening at Sunset Beach with friends Sue Devitt, Alina Cho, and Sandra Ripert; Hamptons magazine cover star Alec Baldwin and I at Villa Pacri, 30 Rock costar Judah Friedlander asked him to sign a copy of his cover; I debated getting a ladder for this photo with Hamptons cover stars Serena and Venus Williams; We enjoyed a menu created by Scott Conant to toast Melanie Dunea’s new book, My Last Supper: The Next Course, during the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival
As we bid adieu to the sun-soaked days of summer and early fall, there is something so out-of-this-world alluring about the holiday season in New York City. Starting with the tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller Center—30,000 lights illuminating the Norway spruce the week after Thanksgiving, skaters gliding around the rink below—New York has holiday traditions known the world over. I always pay a visit to the magical tree and stand in awe of its staggering size, and there’s nothing like strolling along Fifth Avenue admiring the holiday windows of the department stores that run from 34th to 57th Streets, their visuals as entertaining as a night at the theater. Yet amid these grand traditions, I believe the holidays are about creating your own magical moments.
One of mine happens when the first snow will blanket the city in a romantic canvas. Once a flake becomes a flurry, I congregate with a group of friends I grew up with in New York City, and together we walk to the 72nd Street entrance of Central Park. Savoring the peace and serenity in the 843-acre park, we take those irresistible first steps in the newly fallen powder and walk to the Alice in Wonderland statue. Having grown up just blocks away, climbing it is one of the first memories of my childhood. The statue depicting Lewis Carroll’s Alice and her storybook friends is a gauge of temperature for me—fiery hot in the summer, the children who long to climb its cast of characters can barely touch it but do so anyway. In the winter, once the snow is swooshed off, its bronze surface remains freezing cold. Yet it continues to lure in children and those of us who in some ways never grow up, season after season.
As travelers from around the world come to New York to celebrate the holiday season, those of us who live here already know it is the ultimate place to be.
Follow me on Twitter at @samanthayanks
PHOTOGRAPHS BY EUGENE GOLOGURSKY PHOTOGRAPHY (BALDWIN, WILLIAMS); MARK VON HOLDEN (CONANT)