Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

As you are reading this I am enjoying, with my wife and daughters, a New York Christmas. Brannon is a nanny in Astoria (Queens) and invited us to have Christmas here so that she could continue to care for her two little charges while her employer, a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera, rehearses for an upcoming performance. We are staying in her employers home. Brannon insisted: she says we should spend our hotel savings on her Christmas present!

This is our second New York Christmas. The four of us flew to Lagaurdia in 2004, lugged our bags onto a bus, crossed the Tri-Burrough bridge to a subway stop at the Harlem end of Manhatten. We rode the subway to the Flatiron district where we toted the bags to the avant garde Gershwin Hotel. It turned out the Gershwin is near some interesting landmarks. Next door is the Museum of Sex. Just around the corner was Cafe 28 - delicious and very reasonably priced. And on the next block was the Marble Collegiate Church Norman Vincent Peale's old stomping grounds - we attended Chrismas Eve services there. The Empire State Building towers over this section of Manhatten.

We took in four shows on that trip: Little Women, Wicked, Wonderful Town (with Brooke Shields), and Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Watching Wicked with Idena Menzel was glorious, and should have been since it was the most expensive entertainment that I have ever purchased. Don't bother with the dreary book, but the musical is magical.

One of our pleasures in 2004 was people watching and people meeting. One couple we especially enjoyed were from Singapore. We were stuck with them in an hour-long queue at the TCKTS booth at Times Square. We had a delightful conversation and then exchanged e-mails during the next few weeks as their country dealt with the horrible tsunami that struck that week.

Christmas Day 2004 we spent in Central Park. We ice skated for a while, then strolled through the park in the crisp cold of a sunshiny winter day.

From our first busride till our last and the untold miles on the subway in between, we were struck at the friendliness and helpfulness of the New York people. The only angry voice I heard during the trip was from a poor disabled fellow who was nearly knocked over by this clumsy southerner, trying to manuever an awkward rolling suitcase out of an elevator at the Port Authority terminal. He certainly used some colorful language to describe my ineptitude.

Anyway, we're in New York again. I'll try to avoid running down disabled folk this time. I hope we're having as much fun as we have had here in the past.

I'll let you know.

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