Big Apple visit a holiday treat

Christmas is the most magical time of year - a time for family, friends, joy and many blessings. For as long as I can remember, I have spent my Christmases in Hinsdale with my family, celebrating the special meaning of the holiday season. However, this Christmas season began with something different. I got to travel to New York City with my best friend, Sydney.

One thing I have wanted to do for the longest time is experience New York City at Christmastime. I have also always wanted to see a Broadway show. This week, I got to do both.

As I've written before, theater has been a big part of my life. I started doing shows when I was about 6 years old, and I have loved it ever since. But after more than a decade of seeing shows and performing in them, I had never seen a show on Broadway.

That finally changed Monday night. I saw "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Majestic Theater. After spending years wondering what a Broadway show would be like - the sights, the sounds, the feelings - it completely exceeded my expectations. Both Sydney and I walked out of the beautiful theater with tears in our eyes, humming "The Music of the Night."

On Tuesday, Sydney and I went to The FRIENDS Experience and got to see the set and many of the props of one of our favorite shows. Sydney and I like to say that we are like Rachel and Monica, (I'm Rachel and she's Monica), and so it was incredible to feel like the characters for a little while.

Tuesday night we took a chance with fate and entered the "Broadway Roulette," and we were lucky to score tickets to see "Into the Woods," a longtime favorite. It was another magical experience. Suddenly, I had gone from seeing no Broadway shows to two, all in 24 hours.

And on our last day, we got tickets to see my favorite Broadway star, Derek Klena, in "Moulin Rouge." Unfortunately, the show ended a bit too close to my flight time. As I am writing this, I am hoping to still make my flight home (I have faith that I will).

Even with three Broadway shows, tons of shopping and beautiful displays of lights, what stood out to me most throughout this trip was how grateful and blessed I felt. I was in the center of the theater world with my best friend, who loves theater just as much as I do, and it was unforgettable.

Even better, I am heading home just in time to spend Christmas with my family.

This Christmas season, I am checking items off my bucket list, making new memories and thanking God for all the blessings in my life. I truly am having a very merry Christmas, and I hope everyone does the same.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale, a junior at the University of Georgia, is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].