Christmas Traditions & Holiday Glamour

"Few things are as glamorous as formal attire and cold weather."

Blogger Lindsey Davies Bahr wrote that last week, in a post about one of my favorite Christmastime movies, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan. It's a movie about a horrible, and horribly pretentious, group of "friends" in late '80s Manhattan - the people are terrible, but the city is so pretty at Christmas, and made even prettier by all the tuxedos and formal dresses.

It's a movie that leaves me with a strange and uniquely Christmassy feeling - a sort of nostalgia for a holiday season I never actually experienced, except vicariously while paging through the Neiman Marcus holiday catalog. Actual visits to New York at Christmas provide a glimpse of that glamour, but I wonder if it even exists in real life.

Watching Metropolitan has been part of my personal Christmas ritual since college, but my A very young dancerfascination with that fancy, elusive, bright lights type of holiday glamour began years before. When I was five, my parents gave me a copy of A Very Young Dancer by Jill Krementz. The book follows the path of a little girl named Stephanie, who wins the coveted role of Clara in the School of American Ballet's version of The Nutcracker.

It's no secret that the life of the ballerina, while glamorous on the surface, is full of hard work, sweat, and pain (we've written a lot about that). Krementz's book touches on the difficulties Stephanie faces, but the story is really a fairy tale about a young princess in the big city.

For little kids, glamour is everywhere at Christmas - in gingerbread houses and decorated trees and, especially, in Santa Claus. As we get older, and we become the source of that glamour (filling stockings is a lot like realizing that the Wizard of Oz, it's harder to hang on to those feelings that make the holiday season so special.

Tonight, my son will go to bed with "visions of sugarplums" - literally. I'll stay up and finish wrapping gifts. But then I'll recapture some of that feeling by reading my book and watching my movie while I sit in the glow of a Christmas tree. It's an odd tradition, but it's what makes Christmas feel like Christmas to me.