Each holiday season finds a night or two, aside from our traditional family dinners, where we gather with my family. Sometimes it’s because I’m babysitting my niece, grandniece and grandnephew. At others, it’s just because we miss our mom and dad who are no longer with us. Family times are the best times for my brother, sister and our respective families.
Christmas Time Brings Out a Host of Holiday Movies, Past and Present
As I was compiling a list of movies I want to have on hand for the kids if they spend some of their out-of-school time with me, I came across a Yahoo! movie entitled, “Christmas in New York” from 2006 which I’ve never heard of. I’m definitely going to find a way to download or order this one, for it’s bound to be a hit with my sister and brother.
Just reading the movie’s blurb conjures up memories of one of the best trips of my life. During November, 2000, I was talking about a trip I had taken to New York City several years before, and told my sister that one day I was going to take her to New York.
“You’ve told me that before,but you’ve never taken me. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
To her surprise – as well as to mine – I said, we’ll go this year. She didn’t believe me for one second, but after I produced plane tickets the next week, she figured we might actually go. The next thing I knew, my brother called, wanting to know how I could possibly go to New York and leave my little brother at home. Little brother was over 40, but he was definitely our baby brother. I ordered another ticket.
New York City at Christmas: Three North Carolina Folks Paint the Town
Thus began one of the best trips of my life, even though it was a spur-of-the-moment one.
“This program features a selection of traditional Christmas music set to images of New York City’s most iconic symbols of the holiday season, such as the ice-skating rink at Rockefeller Center and the department store windows at Macy’s,” the Yahoo! blurb continued as memories of Christmas, 2000 danced in my head.
We hopped a plane, landed at La Guardia, and caught a shuttle to our hotel near The Plaza Hotel. For three days we crammed in as many sights as our feet could handle. The weather was freezing, but our hearts were warm.
Each of us is married and has a spouse and family, but this trip allowed us to revert to our childhood. Even the taxi drivers in New York commented on how happy we were. One of them said we were the only happy people he had seen during the week. Happy we were. The Christmas angels, tree and lights at Rockefeller Center thrilled us then and continue to do so every time we see those same scenes on television and in movies today. We’ve called other on the phone dozens of times since to recall a laugh or joke from those three days. We toured NBC studios, bought souvenirs at the candy store there, and sat through a presentation on the set at “The Rosie O’Donnell” show.
They somehow trusted me as we were resting our aching feet one evening in our hotel room when I said, “Let’s get dressed. I know where I’m taking you next.” Reluctantly, they got dressed in their warmest clothes and hopped into a taxi with me. Our destination? The Empire State Building, of course. They hadn’t realized it was open at night, but I’d been atop it many years ago on a May Term with college friends, and knew the city was magical from that space at that time of night. The view lived up to and surpassed our expectations, of course, although I can’t imagine being as cold as we were that December evening. On the way home, I asked our taxi driver to drive us over the Brooklyn Bridge, which has always been special to me because I’m a literature nut. My poor brother and sister had to sit through poetry and drama lectures as I waxed on and on about the Brooklyn Bridge. Even the taxi driver couldn’t believe a bridge could elicit such a response in a middle-aged tourist from North Carolina.
On our last afternoon there, we stopped to peer into the World Trade Center. My brother headed up the escalators, intent on going to the top. I looked at my watch, told him we had tickets for Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular” in 45 minutes, and that we absolutely had to leave. “I’ll bring you back,” I said. “I promise.”
We rushed to stand in line to see the Rockettes and “to spend $27. each on popcorn, M & M’s and a Coke,” as my brother recalls. “Where I live,” he told the guy in the seat next to him, “You can buy groceries for a week for what our movie snacks cost us tonight.”
We definitely had the time of our lives, but my promise to my brother is one I, of course, will never keep. The following September saw the Twin Towers fall. He telephoned me on September 11, and has done so every year. “I was there,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” I say. I’ve always kept my promises.
“It’s okay,” he always reassures me. ” We have the best of memories. I can see it all in my head.”
So can I.
The windows at Macy’s, Sotheby’s, the walls of the World Trade Center and the people who were working there.
Yes, we’ll watch “Christmas in New York,” this year and reminisce and count our family’s blessings.