Sometimes, when someone gives you a gift, they don’t realize what they’ve done. A case in point was the Christmas gift my son and his wife gave to me this year - early. It was a uniquely American experience.
It began with an early morning train ride, a normal thing for many commuters, but not this girl. I haven’t been on a train in decades. We hopped on in Hudson and hopped off at Penn Station in NYC two hours later. The city that never sleeps, world renowned, a lure to tourists and terrorists worldwide. Um – okay – forget that last part. Keeping it positive here.
We surged out of the train station and the sun was at our backs as we tromped the streets of Manhattan. It was Sunday but still there were people all the heck over the place. Cement canyons galore. Vendors of every stripe. As in, “real” cashmere scarves for ten bucks a pop or - your bargain of the day - 3 for $25. Such a deal. We forged on for ten or twelve blocks and then I looked up and saw the big “R”. We’d arrived at our destination – Radio City Music Hall.
Ever heard of it? Ha, ha. I know you have and I was there with family and friends to see the Rockettes. Ever heard of them? Well, I have and all my life, too. I felt like a ten year old. The. Christmas. Show. Are you with me here?
I took the picture up there in the corner out on the street where it hung on the Radio City building. We were a little early so we met Katy’s Aunt Gail for a late lunch just around the corner at Bill’s Bar & Burger. Excellent burgers and I indulged in a chocolate shake for which they are renowned. It was right up there on the Yummy Scale.
Afterwards we hit the street again and were soon shepherded into the theater where we were greeted by this sight.
Some Christmas tree, huh? Glass crystals and towering above it all. Anna (granddaughter) said, “I want that in my room.” So, of course, I’ll get it for her. And I told her so as we looked for Row Q and the eight seats reserved just for our crew. We settled into this theater world of draped stage and a thousand lights. Red everywhere. Snowflakes dancing across the ceiling where it seemed as though voices whispered, “Hey, you’re in for a treat!”
And then – the lights lowered, the orchestra began the overture and when 24 reindeer pranced onto the stage my throat nearly closed up. Suddenly the millions of people all over the world who would love to be sitting where I was popped into my head. Oh, New York. I thought of Mom. She would so have loved to see this. She who was enamored of all things classy and beautiful and Big City. My eyes were glued to the lovely young women with long legs, cheerful smiles, rhythm and grace who gotta dance.
I won’t bore you into a coma with a review of every scene but near the end of performance an astonishingly beautiful Nativity – with live animals and everything – strode across the stage to the strains of “The First Noel”. Nearly all of the babble sounds from the audience ceased as the Wise Men presented their gifts. God was in the room and I’m pretty sure He approved.
Sadly, at the ninth hour of our trip, it was time to leave the beauty and dazzle of the theater and think about getting on the train again. Lined up waiting for the crowd were Pedicabs willing to transport passengers around town. So the three of us needing to get back to Penn Station decided to go for it. What fun! Those guys really know how to haul. We three goofy women offered a queen’s wave to the crowds as we passed. In ten minutes we were at the station and a few more had us back on the train heading for home, tired and happy.
So what do I think of my Christmas gift? Well, how many people do you know who get to experience 12 perfect hours? Ever.
Thank you, Katy and Eric. Love you so much.