Thirty Candles

“Wow, I woke up in my cardigan,” said I on the moment I turned thirty. It was the best weekend ever and a most proper to end to my twenties. I called my father up to declare, “I am thirty.” Since, it was a Monday, I took the subway to work and had my morning bagel, while anticipating the big Chinese dinner, which awaited me that evening.

After a feast of scallion pancakes, fried rice and the crowing jewel of the meal, scallion pancakes, my friends & I walked around Chinatown. As we headed toward Mulberry Street, Chinatown met Little Italy. Along the souvenir stands, Italian restaurants and pastry shops was a little gem. “Oh look everyone, it’s the Christmas shop,” I said with eyes wide open.

I could hear everything from Frosty to the Snowman to “All I want for Christmas” (obviously the Mariah Carey version)” vividly in my head. We stepped into a galaxy full of ornaments, fancy chocolates and other Christmas knick-knacks, which were beautifully presented. In contrast to being a jaded New York thirty-something, I was still in awe of the holiday season.

Growing up, I watched and re-watched the Flintstones’ and Jetsons’ Christmas special. I also remember one year, my great-grandma bought us a Christmas tree. My parents decorated it with Technicolor lights. Kitschy decorations gave the tree a quirky appearance.

When I hit my teen years, Christmas trees weren’t as common around the house. Instead, we’d head to Newport Beach. This typically meant, a family dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen, The Cheesecake Factory and/or P.F. Chang’s. Upon moving to New York years ago, I made an effort to get into the Christmas spirit.

After my birthday, the trees formed narrow canyons along New York pavement. The smell of pine was intoxicating. Apartment windows from the East Village to Brooklyn Heights were adorned with austere Christmas trees, shining brightly against the icy New York night.

In January, the theme is “fuhgeddaboutit.” The narrow canyon of Christmas trees disappear. Instead, the pavements became cemeteries for Christmas trees, signaling an end to the holiday season. While walking on East Seventh Street, I too was in awe of all the trees thrown out like yesterday’s rubbish.

Heading further east toward Tompskins Square Park, early in the evening, I saw the Holy Grail. “Oh my, it’s a fully lit Christmas tree,” I said with an innocent grin. “Christmas maybe over, but it’s still somehow alive and well in Alphabet City/East Village. Thanks to this vision.” I admired the tree a bit and was hungry. “Off for Indian food, see you next year Christmas.” To my favorite Indian restaurant, I went, joyful to not be jaded.

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