Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas in Hoboken

December 19, 2008
That's the view out my window. We can see the back of the buildings across the courtyard as the whole of Hoboken fills with snow so thick it turns everything grey, white and black.

At Christmas time in Hoboken the greys are broken by trees filled with colored lights. There are lights on the handrails going up the stoops; there are wreaths on doors. Every business has a sign that says "Merry Christmas" and the churches hold out welcoming candles. I'm in the mood for Christmas this year. Looking out my window, I'm happy to stay inside and watch the whirling snow.

It seems to me that as deep winter sets in, the few days of lights, parties and well-wishing are especially comforting. I pull out my Christmas music and dream of sugarplums and eggnog (the real stuff, not out of a package) as Joan Baez sings to me of the infant in the manger, and I think about what Christmas is all about.

I think I escaped the orgy of materialism that characterizes Christmas for so many. I've got nobody to ask for a gift, so I buy little things for myself that I really want, telling myself that it's for Christmas. My grandsons always ask for cash, and they clean up at this time of year. They get little gifts as well, of course, and every aunt and uncle sends money, so they can buy what they want. I'll spend the few days with them--Elias turns 14 on the 23rd, and we usually go out to his favorite restaurant and have Chinese food that night. Christmas Eve we have seafood, as a nod to the boys' Italian connections, (besides, we all love seafood), and we have a tree. No doubt where they live there will be a great deal of snow, so they may make a trip to Hunter Mountain to ski. Christmas Day will be quiet, and we've been invited to a friend's house for the feast. The new tradition of potluck for holiday meals strikes me as not only appropriate, but a beautiful way to bring guests into the festivities.

The season is profound, spiritual, and even romantic--as long as you're not making it about how much you have to do, how much you have to spend, how much you have to cook, even how much you have to decorate. I won't even open the little box of ornaments I've saved for some 40 years, but I'll think about how pretty everything looks anyway. I'll feel the peace of the season, and the hope for better things ahead.

After the new year, the country will really begin to feel the pain the mismanagement of our precious optimism and talents has wrought. From all accounts, 2009 is going to be a difficult year for all of us. But not today, not this Christmas, not if we can only recapture the spirit the season exists to engender.


Anonymous said...

Earlier today I spoke to my nephew who informed me of the snow. When we lived in Hoboken and Ridgefield Park, we used to look by the window and marvel at the beauty of the falling snow and how beautiful everything looked. It was in the 70's here in Florida today - don't miss the cold and snow of New Jersey at all.

Wishing you a very blessed and Merry Christmas...

barbary kid / charles said...

A short story about a snow storm in Hoboken

I remember sometime in the late 40's or early 50's Hoboken had a snow storm "the mother of all storms". The only thing moving was the Public Service Bus Companys trucks plowing the streets so there buses could run and kids on sleds. There was so much snow we Hobokenites shoveled our own streets. I lived on Hudson St. between 1st. & 2nd. The fire house across the street from me. The firemen opened the sewer covers and the firemen and the neighborhood residents took our own shovels and pushed the snow into the city storm sewer system to clear the street it took a few hours, but we all had fun doing it. After it was over we went home to get warm. Then returned to the streets for a neighborhood snow ball fight. People of all ages participated in it and nobody got hurt. No parents jumping up and down in the streets yelling don't do that. Your going to knock out somebodys eye, or someone is going to get hurt. They were too busy playing with everyone else throwing snow balls and dunking them in the snow. If you shoveled your car out of a parking spot. That spot was yours until the snow was gone. Unless an outsider (someone from outside your neighborhood) parked in it. Or they knew the hours a person worked and when they would be home to claim there spot. I can't remember a problem with a person claiming their parking spot. Hoboken was a good neighborhood community for the most part. You always got a helping hand if you needed it.

Happy Holidays to Hoboken, and You and Yours.

Anonymous said...

Remembering the mother of all snow storms in Hoboken, barbary coast-charles has a good memory. It was in 1948, the worst snow storm since 1888. It was so bad St. Mary's Hospital was looking for their ambulance--they announced over the loudspeakers. It was in the street in front of my house, 924 Garden Street, under all the snow over the roof. THAT'S HOW DEEP IT WAS. My mom called the cops telling them where it was. I was age 9 at the time. We kids had to dig tunnels to get out to play. NO SCHOOL that day. To this day I think the A-BOMB TEST had something to do with that. Hoboken did get some bad snow storms. Another thing I remember is people had to bang on the hoods of their cars before they started them up. WHY? to chase the cats sleeping on their motors to get warm.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Bob. It was the Blizzard of '47. Jan. 28th to be exact. A week after my 7th birthday. I don't know anything about cars & parking spaces, remember DOWNTOWN....2 cars, 4 at the most.
We played in the empty lot of 2nd & Monroe across from #9 school. There are no lots in Hoboken anymore. Where do children play?
One more week & I'll be with Italian Connie in Florida. Won't be back until May!!!

Panaderos said...

Just stopped by to wish you a Merry Christmas. I'm glad that you're enjoying life a lot in a town that we've all grown to love. Take care. :)

Anonymous said...

Such a familiar scene! It looks as though I am viewing what I saw from our kitchen window. I lived between 2nd and 3rd of Park Ave. For a moment my childhood days came flooding back. Like so many of us, we had a fire escape out side the window. My mother would take the cleanest top layer of the snow from the fire escape and make snow cones for us.
I remember the year of 1947, because my grandfather died. I was about 8 years old. Walking to school, the snow was piled up so high. Kids were throwing snow balls, or should I say ice balls. I was hit in the face with one of them. Boy did that hurt! I'll never forget it because we were to take class pictures that day. I h ave that picture of me with a sore under my nose.
Yes, the sight of snow flakes freshly falling down was and is still beautiful! Especially at Christmas time> I remember shopping with my mother and walking on Washington St. Suddenly over the loud speakers, all the way home, you would hear all kinds of Christmas carols and Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. Do you remember that? Thank you for the memories!
I wish you all from Florida a Very Merry Christmas...

Anonymous said...

I have also lived in Hoboken and grew up in a small town. I sometimes yearn to walk those streets again to feel that addictive big city energy!! I am now raising my ten year old son and work as a school teacher. Perhaps there is a butterfly tree waiting for me with all of the answers to this trivial life we are placed.

barbary kid / charles said...

Seems like a lot of us old Hobokenites moved to Florida or became "Snow Birds". I guess we got tired of the cold weather and shoveling out of the snow. I also moved to The Sunshine State, Martin County in 1999. I just love the heat, the hotter the better. Sort of thawing out from all those cold winters and working outside.


Anonymous said...

Snow in Hoboken was a sight to behold. Ever think of Dicken's Christmas Carol? Hoboken was beautiful till the snow turned into slush. Then it uncovered all the other stuff that is usually on the sidewalks and you know what that is if you are a true Hobokenite. The City has the attitude that if He put it there, He could take it away. Although, at one time they used to dump it into the river by the truck load.
That made mini ice bergs!!
Happy New Year! Stay sold cober.

Anonymous said...

Christmas in Hoboken! Yes, I remember very well Christmas in Hoboken. I remember watching the big snow flakes at night floating past the street lights. The windows frosting in the corners. We did not have insulated windows then. Listening to the buses going thru the snow. Hearing someone trying to get their car out of the snow and laughing at them! Where did they think they would get another parking spot, if they did get out?
As I read the comments, I seem to know most of the writers and know what they are missing.
Well folks, we got some snow here in California!! It lasted all of one hour then melted off in the rain, but we got some!!

Sheila C. said...

Loved the pic of the view from your window. I felt like I was looking out MY kitchen window growing up on 7th and Willow! It's funny but not too long ago I was driving behind a bus. Across the entire back of it was a huge ad for a Hoboken luxury apartment. The web site was something like (my old address!). As soon as I got home I looked up the web site and was totally amazed, for the 10-family tenament house I grew up in with 5 'railroad rooms' had been completely renovated. It is now 5 apartments instead with hardwood floors and gorgeous lighting! But the thing that made me laugh was a view of trees from the bedroom window (Hey! That used to be our KITCHEN!) :)