Jennifer Gill and her daughter Kali hadn’t planned on ice skating Sunday. But Frog Pond has a magic when Christmas is near, when the Boston Common feels like the center of everything, and suddenly they were out there, joining the crowd in a classic holiday tradition.
“I thought it was a nice Boston thing to do,” Jennifer Gill said.
With Christmas close at hand, the city crackled with anticipation Sunday. Shoppers rushed to wrap up their Christmas lists, then celebrated by watching football somewhere warm, and warmly lit.
Even the weather seemed swept up in the holiday spirit. With cinematic timing, snow is expected to arrive in the Boston area late Christmas Eve, fulfilling dreams of a white Christmas.
Up to three inches of snow could fall on the region, with the heaviest snowfall in the Connecticut Valley region, forecasters said. The coast is likely to receive just a dusting. More snow could be on the way Wednesday.
Traffic was heavy around malls Sunday, but light on the highways. With the holiday falling on a Tuesday, travelers had the whole weekend to make their trip, staggering the rush.
Still, officials recommended that drivers leave early or late on Christmas Eve to avoid potential delays.
But at Frog Pond, none of that mattered. Carole Freeman and Hailey Ha, a Korean high school student staying with her for the school year, took to the ice.
“I thought this would be a great idea,” Freeman said. “Of course, I haven’t let go of the wall since I got on the ice.”
Freeman, who is Jewish, will include Ha in her Christmas Day tradition — cooking and serving dinner and wrapping presents at a soup kitchen in Lynn.
“There’s a lot of food to cook, a lot of potatoes to peel,” Freeman said.
Jackie and Graig Fantuzzi of Beacon Hill zipped around the rink with their two boys, 6-year-old Owen and 3-year-old Jaxon. Along with the carolers in Louisburg Square, it is a part of Christmas in the city, they said.
Meanwhile, with New Year’s Eve just over a week away, preparations for the city’s First Night celebration began in earnest Sunday. In its 37th year, the New Year’s Eve arts festival is the nation’s oldest and largest, typically drawing more than 1 million people.
In a shift, ice sculptures will no longer be on Boston Common, instead moving to the Prudential Center. There will also be sculptures at Copley Square and the Aquarium.
But for Christmas shoppers, New Year’s wasn’t even on the radar.
On Newbury Street, Michelle Rich of Winthrop and Michelle DeMarco were finishing their holiday shopping, with little time to spare.
“It’s holiday shopping with a little personal [shopping] thrown in,” joked DeMarco.
They had to hustle. Later, Rich would be hosting her annual Dec. 23 dinner party and gift grab — with an emphasis on party.
If someone gets an accessory as a gift, “they have to take a shot,” she said.
At Logan Airport, loved ones reunited for the holiday, some after long absences. Josh Harrison, 20, returned home after eight months of training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. He arrived in uniform, and just in time. Monday is his wedding day.
His fiancee, Katelynn Olivera, 17, planned the wedding for Harrison’s Christmas leave. Harrison recently received orders to deploy to Japan, where Olivera will join him this spring.
The wedding will be small, she said. Then, they will celebrate their first Christmas as a married couple.
“Just spending time with family,” Olivera said.
At Frog Pond, Kali Gill, the Lincoln second-grader with fuchsia beads woven into her braids, said she had made her family candle holders as gifts.
For herself, she was hoping Santa would bring her an art set.
Her mother hadn’t asked for anything specific beyond “a nice day.” In the season’s swirl, it seemed that wish had already come true.
Globe correspondent Katherine Landergan contributed to this report. Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at email@example.com. Peter Schworm can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.