Fantasies of the Season

I wanted to traipse around the city today. For another gander at the holiday windows along Fifth Avenue. But a run and high-intensity workout followed by a session of packing suitcases (we leave for France tomorrow) has done me in. I have been daydreaming while writing this post because oh travel brings with it sweet anticipation (even though my family did make some pother about it because we head to Paris and Strasbourg), so it took some time to get about putting up these vignettes of NYC’s famed holiday windows from last season and this.

The champion of all the narratives was that of Saks Fifth Avenue. They come up with concoctions in their windows that capture the fizzy-frothy spirit of Christmas alright. I never cease to be astonished by the lengths to which they go to make your jaws drop. So what if Macy’s started the game in NYC in the 1880s when they introduced New Yorkers to a novel spectacle. Lest you are not over a century old (write to me, if you are), on a fine December in 1883, outside Macy’s, people were greeted by the sight of Santa Claus on a mechanical sleigh, chauffeured by his team of reindeer, on a circular track that moved around the windows. Santa on parade. Imagine the conversations then. Another Christmas, Macy’s had a tin facade which was labelled ‘A Fantasy of Christmas’ and it did look the part. I shall include a photo that is sourced from the Internet because I was not around to take it in 1959 as you would imagine. Unless I am 76 and passing myself off as half the age on this blog. You never know.

Today the windows have been taken a few notches up from the simple displays of yore when the message was overwhelmingly of sentimentality and nostalgia. After all nostalgia connects us to a past that we know about. It is familiar — and we all ache for the familiar. Something to give us roots. The future can wait even as it hovers around the corner. Yet how these windows continue to evoke this feeling of joy and wonder when you lay eyes on them every season. Like an affirmation of the state of mind that Christmas is. And alongside, the Christmas tree pop-up shops on the pavements of NYC selling Fraser firs and the scent of pine, the scent of Christmas.

Macy’s old-fashioned look for the Christmas of 1959 (sourced from the Internet).

Last Year This Time

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Last year, it snowed when we noshed at the Bryant Park market


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Chicken and waffles soused in maple syrup. My favourite American dish. (whispers: It is awfully good). 
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Treasures of NYC
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Carousel at Bryant Park 
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The Christmas tree of Rockefeller Center
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Street sights
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Angels of Rockefeller 
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Santa loiters in an Irish pub
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It shuts shop this year

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Cartier, tied up in a sparkly red bow

Saks Fifth Avenue, Last Year

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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And then, Once Upon a Holiday, designers put forth their takes on fairytale looks for Snow White. 
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Alberta Ferreti
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Oscar de la Renta
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Ooh, Snow White as Bent Neck Lady
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Naeem Khan

Saks Fifth Avenue, This Year

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The Theater of Dreams. The stage is a grand thing and this is the store’s paean to it.

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Bent Neck Lady is a favourite with Saks Fifth Avenue, you reckon?
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‘Put on a dazzling face’
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My fella’s dazzling face
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‘Some like it luxe’
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‘Puttin’ on the glitz’
Dreaming of shoes

And maybe because I like an anti-climax better than you, because ‘We are the hollow men/ We are the stuffed men /Leaning together/ Headpiece filled with straw’, because I love spewing nonsense, here’s concluding this holiday post on a few random notes.

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Macy’s Sunny the astronaut who travels with her friends through space to help Santa Claus fix his sleigh for Christmas. 

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Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

86 thoughts on “Fantasies of the Season

      1. It’s a learning curve, but we’re loving every minute of it! Your NYC pics bring back many memories.


      2. My pleasure. I always love the beginning of any experience. Especially setting up a new home.

        Here’s to the season and living it up to the fullest.


    1. Cheers Miriam. Hope you are enjoying the month so far. To the very last and best season of the year. xx


    1. Thanks Lorelle. I feel like a child every time we travel. You have a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the year end celebrations. xx


    1. I am sorry to hear that. You did mention about Lyme. I hope you get back on your feet soon, Sherry. Hugs. xx


  1. NYC at Christmas is a magical place and you have captured it beautifully. I have never tried chicken in a waffle but anything with maple syrup is a winner. Enjoy your travels to France. Strasbourg was my favourite city on our recent Europe trip and despite the sad, tragic event earlier this week I long to visit its Christmas market. Happy holidays to you and Adi!


    1. I am excited about Strasbourg — despite the recent attack. It is ghastly and my heart goes out to the injured and the families of those who are no more. All because they happened to be there at the wrong time.

      The photos of Strasbourg have got me going. Plus the promise of the Christmas markets there.

      Thanks for the wishes, Caroline. And happy holidays to Mike and you! 🙂 xx


  2. Good and safe trip for you and Adi! France sounds wonderful and can’t wait to read about your adventures there. Loved seeing all of the storefront displays. New York is certainly the place to see such creative extravagance. Although, I did chuckle at the sight of Santa in a pub. Even Santa likes to have some fun! – Neek 😛


    1. Merci beaucoup, Neek. To get into the mood of things. I am so excited to walk its streets again and sigh at its old elegance.

      He was a wise Santa, lurking around in pubs in the city, and who knows grabbing a drink or two before responding to the many letters that were perhaps waiting to be opened. 🙂 Have a good weekend! xxxx


    1. Now that is an idea to pitch to them! 😀 Thanks, I am on the job. It is easy to fall back into the European rhythm of life.


      1. They are. Just takes time for my comment filter to approve of comments from new readers; it has its own strange radar.


  3. Thinking of the minds behind the spectacle in those Sak’s windows, eh? What pageantry! Just dropped in to see what you were up to. Hope you’re enjoying the France travel, and as always I am living vicariously through your travel, Dippy Dotty Girl! 🙂


    1. Thanks Theresa. I was just going to drift off but saw the notifications. Delighted to hear from you. What minds indeed, eh?

      France is incurably romantic, Theresa. I am holding onto the thought of tomorrow as the last full day before we leave the day after. I hope you are all set for a fabulous Christmas lunch. I have been miss the goodness of Christmas at home for the last two years now. xx


      1. How wonderful. I have just heard from a neighbor here in Seattle that we are on the same latitude as Paris. They said it was the same kind of light. 🙂 Happy travels, Dippy Dotty Girl!


      2. That is lovely! Utterly butterly so 🙂 Thank you my lovely and I wish you a wonderful time too. xxxx


      3. We did a funny thing this year, we decided to have our “big” dinner on Christmas Eve, since my daughter could get off work early, and then she had to work early on Dec. 26th, so she suggested we do the dinner on Dec. 24th and then we could laze around on Dec. 25th. It was pretty fun to change things up a bit. Turned out well! I hope your Christmas was wonderful. 🙂


      4. It was, Theresa. We were at my in-laws’ where we had a feast thanks to my mother-in-law’s enthusiasm in the kitchen. Our nephew and niece, my sister-in-law’s kids arrived from a holiday and it was such fun to see them open their prezzies.

        I think it is a great idea to change things up from time to time. A day for lazing, Christmas itself, sounds banging good to me. 🙂 xxxx


      5. Your Christmas sounds comfy and wonderful, surrounded by family, children, and lovely moments of sharing. So fun! I got a flash of the moment in Dickens where Scrooge’s nephew has that lovely celebration at the end. 🙂

        Your story reminds me, we did something else differently, which was that we actually opened all our gifts on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day as we’d always done. My husband has been lobbying all of us for YEARS to open on Christmas Eve, but I always thought it would lead to a letdown feeling on Christmas, to have already opened all the gifts. But I thought, well, why not try it? this year, and the kids were also interested in trying to open them all on the Eve day. As it turned out, I noticed the result was a feeling of almost having two Christmas Days, because we opened the gifts on the 24th, and then when we got up on Christmas morning, we still had the whole day open to us for celebrating and family time. It didn’t feel disappointing at all! So, you never can tell. 🙂


      6. Ooh did you also watch The Man Who Invented Christmas? It was so beautiful.

        Opening up presents on the night before Christmas and then the bonus of the next day, why it is a rum idea. Truly, the unexpected joys of breaking from tradition are remarkable. It must be so exciting to be a child and believe in Santa Claus right? I still like to think he does his deliveries on time and has enough booze before he sets out on his various stops. Ho ho ho indeed. xxxx


      7. Oh no, how did I miss this movie??? Thank you, Dippy Dotty Girl! I LOVE those movies that show how the author came up with their idea (imagined of course) – Finding Neverland, and the beautiful Shakespeare in Love. I have missed out!

        I love your painting the picture of believing in Santa. Yes, I agree with you, at least the spirit of Santa is so lovely. And funnily enough, even though my kids are past the age of thinking the stockings are filled by Santa (me and my spouse do them), this year they still resisted my saying “When I put such-and-such in your stocking I hoped you would enjoy it.” My son said, “You mean, when Santa put it in my stocking,” smiling. Hah! There is the still child-like longing to believe in magic, I think! xxxx


      8. 🙂 I’m a fan of Christopher Plummer’s acting, though not always of fan of the particular movie. In this case from the trailers it looked really enjoyable!


      9. Plummer has that je ne sais quoi. I rather enjoyed the film and the lead actor who plays Dickens is someone you know rather well from Downton Abbey.


      10. Re C. Plummer, I remember reading that Robert Wise, director of The Sound of Music, wanted the dark aspects of his acting for the role of Capt. Von Trapp, to counteract the “romance” aspect of the story. It’s really fabulous acting, he’s sardonic and cutting early in the movie, and then so riveting when he finally falls for the heroine. Of course he hated the movie, I read. But luckily we can still enjoy it even if it was not on his list! 🙂


      11. He was the quintessential Mills & Boon hero in my mind. Even better I would say. Have you read Mills and Boons books? They were such a part of my giggly teenage years.

        To think that he hated the movie! I wonder why. And hey, thanks for sharing this. I had no idea about it whatsoever. xxxx


      12. I haven’t read Mills & Boon! I’ll have to look it up! … I think Christopher Plummer felt frustrated at having given a performance in a movie that he viewed as sentimental and schmaltzy – all that singing, all the dancing, right? But in later years I heard he was less savagely negative about the movie itself. I think he and Julie Andrews did at least one interview recently together in which he backed away from his negative view now in later years. Hre’s a quick segment on YouTube (about 1 min long):

        Thinking about all that reminds me of how self-critical we can be when we have high standards for ourselves, right? I can see where he would want to do his best performances in everything, and if he felt regret at accepting the role, even if he was amazing in it, all that negativeness toward the film might have arisen from a measure of self-criticism, of perfectionism. Spoken as a recovering perfectionist myself! But with time and distance you get a different perspective. So, he doesn’t completely hate the film any more. 🙂 xx


      13. I hear you. It is the wonderful thing about life that we are constantly learning, evolving, unlearning things we learnt, judging relationships and people, revoking those judgements. What I feel today about someone/something is open to change so very soon that it often makes me think twice before discounting anything/anyone. There is after all a time for everything, as they rightly say. xx


  4. No one does Christmas quite likeNew York! Enjoy your travels to Paris and Strasbourg. Season’s Greetings.


    1. Thank you Sheree. Wish your beloved and you a happy Christmas and end of the year celebrations. France is so charming. I want a tiny pied-à-terre in Paris. 🙂


  5. Hi! I just found “The Man Who Invented Christmas” on streaming video from Amazon Prime, watched it yesterday. So fun! I LOVED how the characters got involved in the author’s life and writing process, and it was definitely reassuring to see the writing-block struggles Dickens was having (or was portrayed as having). All the interruptions, all the gathering of ideas and quotes from people’s mouths, that’s seemed very familiar. Thank you for recommending this movie, I am hooked on it! xx


    1. Hey Theresa, thanks! That made me smile because it is exactly what resonated with me. It reassured me that writers for the most part are shaped from the same clay when it comes to these plethora of anxieties and insecurities. The movie was delicious. 🙂 xx


  6. Oh New York and Christmas, they go nicely together. Nice pictures here A. And oh yeah, I’m back-reading all the way to Dec. That’s how busy it has been for me here during the first half of this year. But I’m back and I’m happily reading blogs once again 🙂


    1. Oh well, look at me! Super late in replying and updating myself with my feed. Yet to get into the middle of things in the blogging world but so happy to have you back and gracing my blog too. xx


      1. I have yet to read a few more. It’s always a pleasure reading your stories! I have always wanted and wondered how it would be like to spend our Christmas in NY but I’m also always worried about delayed flights because of too much snow.


      2. You are so kind, lovely. I think you should just book the flights for Christmas. It is not as grand as Europe but the Christmas displays on 5th Av. could hold their own. And the city is buzzing with the spirit of the season. Plus we can meet! ❤


      3. All about faith and hope. I think you can handle snow. 😉 And well, there is room at ours always. xx


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