Friday, February 22, 2008

Thanksgiving in NYC

New York City never disappoints me. Through Uncle Chris and NBC, we scored amazing front row grandstand seats for the parade. It was a mob scene along the parade route (no cabs could get through). My kids got an express tour of Central Park as we took a short cut. A special thanks to all the NYPD (a shout out to Officer Castro) who helped us get through barricades. The crowd was in a great mood and included Joey Fatone of the Backstreet Boys. I recognized him in time to say hello. As for the parade, my daughter got to see her beloved Jonas Brothers up close and my husband cheered for Bob from Sesame Street, who seemed thrilled to steal some attention from Elmo. He’s been on that show for over 35 years! Seeing all the floats and the bands in person was incredible.

Then it was back to the Le Parker Meridian for some swimming in the enclosed penthouse pool. I actually got to read the entire New York Times while the kids played. Bliss. The open air roof offered a spectacular vista view of Central Park’s changing leaves. It was a warm 70-something so my daughter was able to join me in her bathing suit! Not your normal New York November.

Dinner at Becco (owned by Lydia of “Cooking with Lydia” fame on PBS) was a scrumptious Italian-American feast. Pumpkin ravioli sprinkled with cocoa for the pasta course, roasted brussel sprouts as a side and the apple-pecan pie were my favorites. Yum.

Then a nice guy offered to take our family photo with Times Square as our back drop. And he didn’t run off with the camera!

The next day my son’s pick was up first - the mythical creatures exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It was crowded but he loved it. He didn’t need to read the placards. He could tell you all you ever needed to know and more about Medusa or a Norwhale. I hope there is a career in that.

Afterward, we took in FAO Schwarz. Amazingly, my kids were not overly impressed. My husband and I sure as hell were. But then again, we were no where near as spoiled as our kids. Note to self: Work on their gratitude and sense of what other’s don’t have.

We window shopped past Tiffany and Co. on our way to lunch at the Rock Center Cafe. Our table overlooked the ice skaters outside and they offered the critical combination of chicken fingers for the kids and beer for mom and dad! Then it was orchestra seats for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Love those Rockettes. Declan fell asleep halfway through and Kylie was calm. We finally wore them both out.

Sounds like a pretty wonderful trip right. Well….

My goal was two-fold — family bonding time and to have my husband cross off a “one of the things to do before I die.” His death is not imminent. Although, at several points during the trip he threatened to have a stroke. Traveling with children is challenging and that’s the understatement of the year.

Granted it’s easier now that we aren’t lugging portable cribs and hauling baby supplies like pack mules. But each age presents it’s own set of problems. My pre-teen daughter seems to have a uncontrollable urge to talk back. So our three-day Thanksgiving getaway to New York was peppered with sarcasm and complaints. There isn’t enough wine to drown out the whine. Or maybe I wasn’t willing to endure the next day’s tirades with a hangover.

I was the same little pain in the ass with my parents. It’s a rite of passage. I know when she looks back on this trip, she’ll remember all the highlights and not that I didn’t let her wear jeans to Thanksgiving dinner or that we weren’t spending the day with her grandparents and extended family. An occasional break (for me “occasional” means for the first time ever) from holiday tradition is healthy and makes it that much more meaningful when they roll around again.

Family bonding just can’t be planned though. It just happens in the day to day. So grab those moments when you can. Crossing things off your “to do before I die” list absolutely has to be arranged. This holiday season, gift one of those things to yourself. Life is short. Despite really loooong days with kids.

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