Monday, December 15, 2008



When I saw the limos and police stationed outside the Waldorf Astoria, I wondered if perhaps New York was being treated to another visit by the Brangelina clan. Earlier this year I met a teacher at the Lycee Francois who told me what it was like to have young Maddox at school while his parents occupied a large suite in the famed Park Avenue establishment. As it turned out, though, this time the Waldorf was merely occupied by members of the Saudi Royal family (the royal censor, if my sources are to be believed) and later, Governor David Paterson. All this excitement was purely accidental; my annual New York Christmas traditions now include high tea in the lobby of an otherwise unaffordable hotel. Ah, hotels. Transmittors of glamor! This year we happened to choose the Waldorf Astoria which was lovely but, sadly, lacked a competent pianist.

I'm not sure I'll be back to the Waldorf next year, though I did learn that the "champagne tea" option on the menu actually provided free refills; my intrepid husband, fluent in anything pertaining to spirits, of course knew that he could ask for glass after glass and not keep paying for them. I stuck with one flute.

Time flew by far too quickly. Conversation skipped along from politics, to architecture, to books, to fashion. Tea is never long enough.

It's become a tradition, too, to check out some of the 5th avenue holiday lights. I'm not a fan of the Vuitton monogram myself, but I did like the colors in the windows. I sometimes feel that by exposing myself to a bunch of lights like this, I can almost propel myself through the dark time of the year, as if all that color and frenetic activity releases an extra little bit of serotonin in my brain.

My favorite of all the store windows is always Bergdorf Goodman. Every year they come up with something fashionable and festive . . . and slightly disturbing. Where Lord and Taylor waxes nostalgic over classic Christmas tales and Victoriana, and Bloomies tries for something cartoonish and bold, Bergdorf manages to twist reality in a way that I find pleasingly surreal. This year's theme: The Four Seasons. Above is a glimpse of December, the month of "holidays."

If you go, don't forget to look at the little windows too. Once upon a time, I spent hours making miniatures--dollhouse food and figurines--and I still appreciate a small window display like the one above, which is supposed to feature the month "March." See the house which has blow up into the nest? The wind howling in the background? The wiry tree covered with pearls twisting in the gale? I suppose that is March in New York City; unrealistic, uncomfortable and always, always glamorous.

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