The aroma of gingerbread and cinnamon is filling the air. You can taste the delectable cookies baking in the oven and feel the drop in temperature as the weather turns icy; these are big signs the holiday season is upon us again.
This year, my family and I are taking a familiar trip to New York to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Some people may view this adventure with a negative outlook: standing in the midst of a crowd of thousands from around the world, usually in freezing temperatures, just to look at a tree. But it’s so much more than that: It makes us aware that cheer and holiday spirit are also in the air. Rockefeller Plaza is home to the famous ice skating rink complete with couples holding hands, families with children frolicking around and most importantly, hot chocolate.
This year’s tree is an 80-foot Norway Spruce from Mount Olive, N.J., which is not far from New York, according to the Rockefeller Center website. The notable story behind this year’s tree is that it survived Hurricane Sandy. While watching replays of disturbing images after Sandy ripped through the East Coast, not many people can say they got away unscathed. Thankfully, this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, while normally an iconic symbol of the holiday spirit, means something a little more to those affected by the “superstorm.” It can be considered a beacon of hope that rebuilding is possible, although it may seem out of reach at the moment.
The tree was picked to be on display before the storm even hit, and it managed to come away with minimal damage.
The Daily Mail Reporter quoted donor Joseph Balku as saying, “I kept going outside during the night. I lost two trees, an oak and an evergreen, but the big tree was tied up for protection.” Even Sandy couldn’t damper this donor’s determination.
Anyone can see the tree on TV, but it is really special to see in person. Thanks to the convenience of its location, we have the opportunity to see it every year, sometimes more than once. But there are people who have never gone. There’s no way to describe the anticipation when you’re walking down Fifth or Sixth Avenue, right before you turn that corner, and then you see the lights, crowds and decorations. It’s surreal.
As witnessed since recovery started, the true sense of the meaning of the season has emerged. Strangers, neighbors and families have all put forward their best efforts toward rebuilding and extending a hand out for those who truly need it. This year, many people have the opportunity to reflect on recent events and be exceptionally grateful for all aspects of their lives.
The Christmas tree originated centuries ago in Germany and since has symbolized many different things for different people over the years. This year it is a symbol of optimism to all and a reminder that we can overcome any devastation and rebuild to become stronger than we were before.
Junior journalism major
Printed in the 12-7-12 edition