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New York City and Christmas
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New York City and Christmas

By Bernadette A. Moyer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We just returned from the city, and what better place to begin celebrating Christmas than in New York City. When I was just a young girl my mother took me to New York City about a handful of times. My first trip there, I was probably just 12 years old. Now 40 years later I remember those trips so vividly. It was then and there that I saw my first Broadway play; it was called Irene with famous actress Debbie Reynolds who had the lead role. Then on another trip we saw the world famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. My mother and I also went to see The Best Little Whore House in Texas and the film debut of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon on the big screen at Radio City. There were times we waited in long lines and in freezing cold temps to see those shows but it was always well worth it.

We would celebrate these trips with a big meal either lunch or dinner at Mama Leones or some other bustling city restaurant. Sometimes we went to Chinatown. Often we went as part of a bus trip and there was an occasion where we drove into the city while parking at the Port Authority. Coming to New York is where I would witness such diversity from my small town Pennsylvania upbringing. I remember seeing religious groups and poverty; we walked past a man that was lying on the street. One of his shoes was kicked off and no one stopped nor did they seem surprised that he was just lying there on that sidewalk. In being so young, I couldn’t stop staring, but I soon learned that in New York City, you best keep walking as it is move or be moved. My desire to catch a look wasn’t going to interrupt the masses of people that bustled through these busy streets.

I was so young and so wide-eyed but who could forget the skating in Rockefeller Center and the huge decorated Christmas tree. Back then I was such a small town girl, going to the city was both exciting and scary. People moved so fast and it seemed like everyone was selling something. Often we went at Christmas and I remember loving those trips. My mother would take us, one daughter at a time and it was our special time alone with her. She loved chestnuts and always purchased them from the street vendors.  

Yesterday I went to New York City with my husband Brian; we have gone to the city many times before, often with friends and other times with family. But this trip was just for us. My husband works so hard and I try my best to plan activities and events to help him decompress from his hectic and demanding work schedule.

We took the train right into Penn Station and started our trip by going to the Empire State building. Later we ventured into Rockefeller Center to ice skate and enjoy a hot coffee. We shopped Macy’s and took in their window decorations before heading out to lunch at Becco an Italian restaurant located in the theater district. Becco has become a favorite restaurant for us, Lidia Bastianich is one of the owners and the authentic homemade Italian pasta dishes are some of the best I have ever eaten. Besides the pasta they have homemade apple strudel that is to die for it is that good.

After a two hour lunch and sipping limoncello, we continued on with our Christmas shopping and taking in all the sights and sounds of New York City. We ate a handful of chestnuts from a street vendor, this I did in memory of my mother who is no longer with us.

Walking the streets in New York City is both exhausting and exhilarating but definitely a high point of these trips. Most of these trips we do take in the theater, most notably the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. This show is amazing with the parade of Wooden Soldiers, dancing Santa’s and the world famous living Nativity. The Nativity is complete with live animals like goats, sheep, camels and reindeer and worth the cost of admission just to view the Living Nativity alone.

But on this trip is was more about taking in the street sights and sounds of Christmas through their decorations, food and shopping, like all New York City trips it was wonderful. Christmas music was playing everywhere and as always there was such high energy and excitement in the air.

We enjoyed our easy and relaxing train ride home together, I am happy and content, and Brian couldn’t have been more appreciative for all my efforts in planning this particular trip. He left his work home on this day along with his Blackberry. We return home refreshed and ready to go again. Thank goodness for Brian because in his absence that Blackberry now contains 74 new e-mails, 4 new text messages and 3 missed calls all work related and from just one missed day on the job.  

New York City and Christmas just naturally go together, and for us these trips have become part of our annual holiday traditions. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and trips like this one to New York City help us add to that wonder!