The Twelve Songs of Christmas: “A New York Christmas” (Rob Thomas)

I can’t speak for everyone here at 13/31, but for me this is the quintessential Christmas song, especially as a New Yorker.

Even I can’t deny the power and presence of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree — and I hate tourists and fighting my way through the masses of people standing around and gawking at everything. There’s just something almost magical about it. A bright, shining reminder of the life and love the holiday season is all about, the tree adds warmth and color to an area of the city that’s normally cold, industrial, and plastered with advertisements designed to attract those tourists who are easily influenced and willing to spend money.

Look guys, I understand that the stores are huge, but come on, you’re really not going to find all that much there that you can’t find at any of the locations closer to home. Also, stop standing in the middle of the street taking pictures of taxis (actual thing I saw once, I wish I were joking).

Somehow, Rob Thomas manages to capture all that magic and more in the space of just a few minutes. Without even saying anything about them, he conjures up images of ice skaters in the shadow of the tree, a snow-covered Central Park, and walking down city streets hunched against the cold while soft flurries fall to the sidewalk. He reminds us that there’s more to winter in the city than piles of filthy slush and throngs of tourists, all covered by desolate grey skies (sorry for that image, but seriously, I’m a writer, what did you expect?). We all know the realities of winter, but Thomas presents us with a beautiful, idealized escape. And unlike other songs that tell cute stories about perfect, pure snow and warm fires, this image is believable. For just a moment you can feel yourself in a city of wintry paradise.

This time of year more than ever it’s important to take that joyful feeling and picture-perfect image, and hold them in our hearts. They might comfort us at least a little the next time we slip and slide through the slush to avoid a crowd of tourists.

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