Christmas - and Chanukkah - in New York

I'm a New Yorker. Sure, I live in Los Angeles; in February it will be 20 years since I made the move. But while I may be in LA, I'm not of LA. I yearn for New York and have a physical need to check in regularly.

And I've kept up. I read the New York Times, New Yorker and New York Magazine every single week. I resent that NY1 isn't available on DirecTV. I met with someone in the development office of NYU, my alma mater, just two weeks ago.

My New York friends are the ones I came of age with, and they know me in ways my LA friends don't (and that's a good thing--not everyone should remember the way you looked in braces or the way you smelled first time you got drunk). Perhaps most importantly, my brother and sister and their families are both there. (My mom now lives in Puerto Rico, but that's a topic for another blogging day. Caution: hellish Thanksgiving story ahead.)

In short, if I could have figured out a way to have a dog, a car, a tree and a second bedroom in NYC, I might still be there. But I couldn't so I'm not. Instead, I head east on a seasonal basis: spring and fall because they're so perfect there, summer because there's no school schedule to work around. And in December, I need my Christmas-in-New York fix.

I haven't had that fix in a while and it's time. I want to shop. More specifically, I want to window shop at the big department stores like Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman. OK, I admit I'll go inside, too. I want to see friends and family. I want to deliver Christmas cookies and gifts personally.

So I booked a trip the only days I could get away this month. And I blew it. The first night I'm gone is the first night of Chanukkah.

Yes, despite my Christmas planning, I'm also a Cohen, and we celebrate both holidays around our house. My favorite part of gift-buying is crafting the eight nights of gifts for my son. I start strong on Night One, then psych him out with a book or socks on Night Two. I drop hints about one thing then give another on Night Three. And so on. I like the lighting of the candles and the (for me, phonetic) recitation of the prayer. But this year I'll be away from my family for the first two nights. Oy, the guillt.

I'm off right now to buy something really exceptional for Night One. I might even have to pick up something better than usual for my husband. He doesn't track the holidays and hasn't yet figured out that my trip coincides with Chanukkah, so I still have time to figure out how to make up for my absence.

Over-spending: the next best thing to being there.

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