I love America. And one of the reasons I know I love America is because I’ve spent the holidays in Italy. I hated Christmas in Italy. It’s subdued and rather boring. The big holiday meal is great, of course, but when you get three hours for lunch everyday, that big holiday meal seems the same as any other day. Yes, the American version of Christmas is all about material things and glitz and I’m supposed to hate it. But I love it. I love it in spite of the materialism. I love the way we all believe in Santa and there is something magical in the air. I love the lights on all the houses, singing carolers, egg nog, and Christmas cookies. I love the holiday music and the holiday movies. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a viewing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. Since I have my own little elf now, I want him to cherish American Christmas as much as I do.
Being a New Jerseyan – born and raised – I want him to feel the spirit in his home state most of all. So far, this season we have had breakfast with Santa at the Park Ridge Elks (see “AFTER” photo below), exchanged cookies with some of our cousins, baked cookies with the elf’s cousins, and decorated the house with the miniest of trees and put it far out of reach because my elf is also Mr. Destruction. He nearly pulled the heavy, metal stocking holders on his head. Those are gone, too. But we will not shout, “Bah humbug!” On the contrary, paper decorations are yet to come. And we’re planning on baking a cake in the shape of St. Nick and attending Van Saun Park’s annual train ride with Santa event. Of course, there is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to celebrate. ‘Tis the season to enjoy New Jersey, its people, and its Christmas spirit, so get out and support local businesses and attend local events, like your neighborhood tree lighting, caroling, or dreidel spinning. Happy holidays to all and to all a good night!
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press Travel, 2012).