30 December 2014

Christmas in B-Town

We have been soaking up the holidays in Brooklyn like crazy. It has been so, so good.

This is what we've been up to over the last week or so:

Celebrating Hanukkah.

This was my first time celebrating Hanukkah. My niece and nephew are half Jewish so we got to learn from them how to play dreidl. I had no idea chocolate coins were involved - so fun (we especially loved these upgraded mint coins from Lake Champlain Chocolates, of Vermont). Lighting the menorah was so special each night and eating latkes with applesauce was so yuuum. And we smiled every time we saw these menorahs strapped to the tops of mini vans in their neighborhood of Crown Heights. These things were everywhere!

Dyker Heights.

Yep, Dyker Heights is going strong. We're talking an entire neighborhood that is trying to make their homes look like this. (Watch for the neighborhood from your plane if you land at JFK in December.) We went here after Christmas this year and I must say it was kind of fun to extend the Christmas festivities a little bit more. The classic Brooklyn evening could not have ended better than with a huge table for 17 at the family owned L&B Spumoni Gardens. Imagine a room just bursting with huge families, thick Brooklyn accents, Italian waiters handing out free pizza before you even placed your order, mirrored ceilings, and pizza makers that seriously knew what they were doing. You don't get any more iconic Brooklyn than L&B and I hope that gems like this will stay this way forever. P.S. If you eat these kinds of things, I would also head to get cannoli at Cannoli Plus in Bensonhurst (Danny and I love cannolis so much we actually served some from Mike's Pastry at our family dinner the night before our Boston wedding. Oh, gluten and dairy. Sometimes I do miss you.)

And here's the homemade Spumoni ice cream that L&B is famous for.

The Nativity on Christmas Eve.

You know we LOVE this live nativity pageant at the gorgeous Heavenly Rest Church on the upper east side. It has become a wonderful reunion of sorts with our friends from Manhattan, Westchester, and Brooklyn. This year our little Brooklyn peeps were IN the pageant which was way too exciting!! We can thank their parents for driving them to the upper east side for several rehearsals. It was so fun to watch those little angels and wise men pages while we went nuts from the aisle pews.

My niece and nephew loved it, too - especially the baby sheep.

Christmas Dinner in Park Slope.
There is something magical and wonderful about being in New York on Christmas Day. It's always such a quiet and lovely day with TONS of parking everywhere (!) and scenes of large families walking here and there. I quite love it. And there's nothing better than being one of those people walking through brownstone Brooklyn carrying some Pyrex dishes of homemade food while we make our way to a cozy gathering of friends. Seriously, that is what the best days in NYC are made of. We all feel like family here. And the icing on the cake this Christmas was to dine together in a nearly vacant fancy shmancy town home/mansion in Park Slope. So, so lovely. So memorable. The red velvet staircase and all.

Sorry if you've had enough of my New York posts lately! I guess I can never get enough of New York. That's been the case since I first visited when I was 18 years old. 

And if you've read this far - can we talk about celebrating holiday traditions from other cultures & religions? A few of my Mormon friends are lighting the menorah with their children (since they have many Jewish friends at school). Have you adopted any celebrations? (Someday I'd love to get in on some Danish & Croatian traditions due to our family heritage.)

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