I put up my Christmas tree and lights before I left for Thanksgiving. I also straightened up my apartment and made my bed, so when I got back on Sunday, it felt like my apartment was welcoming me home. Cheesy, but exactly the feeling I was going for when I hung ornaments on the fake tree I’ve toted through two dorms and three apartments. And looking at my decorations also gives me a bit of the feeling I had when I stumbled on the holiday windows at Lord & Taylor a couple weeks ago.

My friends and I talk a lot about dating. (This may seem like a non sequitur, but bear with me.) Of course we do – we’re twenty-somethings and some of us live in New York, a city acknowledged by most as an impossible place to date. But recently a friend and I were talking about what makes a conversation flow, once you’ve gotten past normal dating awkwardness. I always bring up passion for your topic as a key factor – if you’re excited about it and can talk about it intelligently, I’ll probably be interested in what you’re saying. This time, though, we talked about liking people who have a sense of wonder – that feeling you get when you see a really gorgeous sunset over the river, or hear a piece of music that makes your heart hurt a little in the best way.

So back to those holiday windows at Lord & Taylor. I was running an errand in midtown and just happened upon them. Before that day I probably couldn’t have told you where the big flagship store was (5th Ave between 38th and 39th, for the curious!). I spotted white twinkle lights from a block away and made a beeline for the store. Part of it was motivated by creating content for this blog, I’ll admit it. But while I snapped photos and looked at the displays, I had this nice moment for myself. I stood with other gawkers and watched animatronic gingerbread men tilt a house back and forth and looked at fake desserts that would be too pretty to eat even if they were real.

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If I’d been running late for an appointment, or had to fight my way past crowds of tourists, it would have been different, and I probably wouldn’t be using it as an example of the kind of wonder that I’m describing here. But in the midst of everyday stress I’m trying to look for those moments more – I think noticing them makes me a better person to talk to, even if it just puts me in a better mood. I think different people are affected by different things – a lot of people will roll their eyes at holiday windows and walk by, and that’s fine. But I’m kind of suspicious of people who roll their eyes at everything, you know?

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Anyway, tis the season for holiday windows at all the major department stores, for tree lightings at Rockefeller Center (tomorrow, yikes!), for ice skating and holiday concerts. Also for Christmas caroling (and Christmas Carols) and lights and candles and cutout cookies. Some of those things, on the right day and at the right moment, will make everything a little brighter for me. What about you?

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