Sunday, 14 December 2014


City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style.
In the air
There's a feeling of Christmas.
....Silver Bells

Being an avowed rural town resident does not prevent me from appreciating how downtown life could be much more fulfilling and exciting for many of our friends. Never is this understanding clearer than at Christmastime. Perhaps because I was born and raised in Toronto and subsequently spent my early married years here, Christmastime in T.O. now stirs in me a font of fond memories. To walk the evening streets is to stroll down memory lane.

A concert, a dinner with dear friends and an overnight stay in town reminded me this past Saturday of how truly beautiful Toronto is when dressed up for Christmas, her colourful light displays dispelling the gloom of our long, dark December days.

At its heart, is city hall's giant Christmas tree, standing majestically in Nathan Phillip's Square 

overseeing representatives of every age group participate in a truly Canadian activity  - skating on an outdoor rink. I smile. How many times, I reminisce, Did Jim and I freeze our "you know what's" off whizzing around this beloved ice surface on New Year's Eve?"

Walk further and twinkling lights greet you at every turn.

Strings of street lights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green.

Corporate headquarters are alive with Christmas spirit, displaying everything from giant glowing snowflakes to lavishly decorated trees. Retailers become their most inventive with show stopping window displays.  A giant metallic reindeer holds court in the Eaton Centre dwarfing all shoppers in its midst.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, surpasses the Bay's Santa-themed windows in stirring within me nostalgia for Christmases past. Joining the crowds of adults and children, oo-ing and ah-ing at the heartwarming displays, I squeezed Jim's hand. For a moment I was that young girl, tightly holding my Mother's hand, awe-struck by the magical scenes unfolding before me. Memories of traditional Christmas shopping trips with my parents, dinner at the Arcadian Court and a highly anticipated visit to these windows flooded my emotions. A special thank you to The Bay for picking up the torch from the now defunct Eatons and Simpsons stores. 

My favourite? I was mesmerized, even as an adult, by the window depicting Santa's Workshop. A massive illuminated clock counting down to Christmas Eve was the backdrop to Santa on a balcony holding a long unfurled scroll - "The List" - with a myriad of adorable elves busy below. Had I not felt the need to move aside for young children eager to catch a view of where Santa works, I could have stood there all night.

See the kids bunch.
This is Santa's big scene.

Cozy under the hotel duvet, curtains open, I fell asleep to a view of City Hall bathed in blue light and fronted by its sparkling Christmas tree. And visions of sugar plums danced in my head. Yup! It's Christmastime in the City.

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