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.
Last Year This Time
Saks Fifth Avenue, Last Year
Saks Fifth Avenue, This Year
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.