Sunday, December 9, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

A late good afternoon from New York.

As many of you all know by now, I love reading. Most of my books now come from a great, quaint old members-only library, but the New York Public Library has a prominant spot in my heart.

I have borrowed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books from the Public Library, and about six years ago, made much use of its free access to computers when preparing resumes and correspondence as I sought to re-enter the working world.

For many years, I have donated a little bit of money each year to the NYPL, and think of it as a small thank you for all that the Library has given me. The main branch of the Library is a splendid stone building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. It has grand exhibition spaces where wonderful exhibits regularly appear; a rare books room that one can actually visit, after going through a few security hoops; a rare map department, a magnificent reading room arrayed with fine old books, and sparkling new computers. The building is a wonder, and many fine librarians are there daily to help everyone.

On a December Sunday each year, the Library holds a very festive holiday open house, to which all the Friends of the Library are invited. It is great fun. The place is magnificently decorated with greenery. Lots of music is played and sung. Many folks parade around in storybook costumes. Children are encouraged to attend (it is not a day for silence in the halls) and there are all sorts of entertainments for the children ... face painting, juggling lessons, magic and puppet shows, storytelling, origami, and more.

Lots of cookies, chedder cheese pastry twists, punch and lots of wine is served from many buffet tables throughout the many levels of the marble halls. In one ballroom sized area, a disco band plays for dancing, and a more elaborate buffet is on offer.

The party is great fun, and a queue forms outside the building on Fifth Avenue about an hour before the starting hour. It is so funny to have bustling Christmas shoppers stop in their tracks to ask those in the queue, what's happening, what's going on ... and to tell them it is a party, and ... if they were to become a Friend they could come to next year's party.

This year's version was just a enjoyable as those of years past. I am glad that the forecast precipitation held off, so that after I left the party, I did a bit of walking up Fifth Avenue with my camera and have tried to get a few photos to share with you all. I have pictures of the special windows in shops such as Lord & Taylor, Saks seen from Rockefeller Center, and best of all, Bergdorf Goodman. BG's windows always set the standard.

By four o'clock, the air was distinctly cold, and it was time to get myself home, change clothes, and get some groceries. Now I am cosy by the laptop, and hoping to be able to properly illustrate my Sunday blog so that you all will be able to see some city views.

Pleasant dreams to all.


  1. Hi Frances!

    We have been crossing in cyber space today! Lovely to read all about the library party - what a great idea! and see your photos which fascinated me - as a warm weather celebrator of Christmas in a place that never snows! Thank you for that - I would definitely be a friend of the library!

  2. The Library sounds fascinating. We have an old library in Bideford thanks to the Carnegie Trust. It has lovely high leaded windows and an atmosphere all of it's own. I'd love a wander down 5th Ave to see those wonderful shop displays.

  3. It sounds fabulous. And your photos are beautiful.

    Crystal xx

  4. I am there with you Frances, it sounds lovely somehow NY has a way of making the magic come back to Christmas, love the idea of the library party,I look forward to hearing from you when the snow arrives then it really will be Christmas in New York.
    Love Blossom

  5. What a fun party that sounds! Lovely photos, as always, Frances.

  6. Oh that made me feel very Christmassy, the photos were lovely, and the party sounded fabulous. The happy farmer is off to the woods today to start to look out Christmas trees for us.

  7. Perfect - I did enjoy my trip to New York and visit to the library with you. The library sounds brilliant but well done to you and other Friends who keep it going.

  8. Dear Frances,

    I haven't heard that version by Bruce Springsteen that you mentioned on my blog, I will certainly try and find that version and add it to the ones have listed already!

    Thanks for the additional information, it's fascinating where all these things we take forgranted come from, it's also interesting to see that it is a two way process, your customs influencing ours and vice versa.

    I found a poem about Mince Pies that alledgedly along with taxes and the Boston Tea Party, and New England Puritan ideals hastened the Declaration of Independance; I'll email it to you!

    Zoë xx

  9. Hi Frances,

    I have always wanted to visit New York and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed today's virtual visit. What a lovely picture you paint of your city and its festive customs. The trouble is, I want to come more than ever now! One day, maybe. I have this fantasy of bringing my two girls, when they are slightly older, for a Christmas trip. I will have to conquer my flying aversion before then!
    Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog too.


  10. great to hear about a party in a library, and lovely photos

  11. Thanks for transporting me to a Manhattan Christmas. I also love the idea of the library party.

  12. Oh thank you for sharing that piece of your city with us. Of course the library interests me greatly, what a great party too. It is obvious New Yorkers takes literacy very seriously.

  13. It does inded look magical! Loved the shop windows which reminded me of our annaul christmas ritual as children to go and see the windows in lOndon which had wonderful fairy tale christmas stories unfold in each one!

  14. Wow francis it sounds and looks wonderful..Christmas in NY must be pretty special i always think of the old christmas movies, which are always set there very romantic xxoo

  15. Brilliant Frances; that line about the old books and bright computers [apols for misquote] really hit a note with me, so evocative. You gently take us by the hand and show us your New York, and we love it.

  16. So sorry for arriving here late Frances, but it has been worth it. You capture everything so beautifully. What a very kind gesture that is to support the NYL.

    I too have been a member of this since I have been knee-high, it has been an invaluable part of my life.

    Gorgeous photo's Frances, and thank you for sharing with us.

    Love and Best Wishes,