He is attired in cherry red trousers tucked into oversized black boots. Is that you, Santa Claus? No, it is bandana-pants man. His trousers are fashioned out of red bandana fabric. This is clearly a subliminal message from the bakery. We ride the subway together four stops south, exiting the train at Spring Street. Out of all the subways in all of Manhattan, it’s practically kismet. Sadly, we part ways at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Spring, which coincidentally, seems to be the season folks are dressed for. Feeling the slightest bit conspicuous, I forego my fleece lined hood.
It is way too balmy for December in NYC, feeling more like Christmas in Florida.There are tiny white lights and frosty ornaments draped across the windows of storefronts, boughs of evergreen gussied up with red velveteen bows. My day is spent with my Longhouse crony Alicia, trouble-shooting recipes, preparing cookies. Dark chocolate crinkles, buttery pecan wedding cakes and sugar cut-outs dressed in royal icing top the work list. An enormous stockpot of granny smith apples and cranberries simmer on the stove, holiday pungent with cinnamon and cloves. It smells the way December should. Alicia is in the thick of whisking egg whites and sugar, her black leggings spattered in wayward meringue. My sneakers leave a subtle trail of powdered sugar with each footprint.
Inspired by peppermint, chocolate and meringue, I pause at the corner grocer for my own cello-wrapped candy cane before heading underground. My Metro card mocks me, admonishing me to swipe again and again and just once more. Long enough for the uptown E train to pull into the station, pause with doors wide open then seal them shut. Catapulting through the turnstile I find myself eye to eye with the window of the first car of the train. Instead of looking away, the engineer looks at me and opens the doors. It is a Christmas miracle.