Any other year today would be the day that my family would make the pilgrimage back to New York. We would be looking forward to spending time with friends and family that we hadn’t seen since the summer, and making plans for our annual train ride into the city to see the Rockefeller Center tree and the decorated windows at Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Our family, along with my sister and her family, have made that trip several times over the years, and it has become a highlight of our holiday season. Joining the tens of thousands of other families trying to catch a glimpse of the city so nice they named it twice sounds like a nightmare to most, but there is just something about the vibe in Times Square at Christmas time that brings us back. Enjoying a hot pretzel, or more accurately a warm pretzel at best from a street corner cart while walking around the city with the smell of chestnuts literally roasting on an open fire filling the air just can’t be beat. After a day of sight seeing and people watching, we had the daunting task of finding some place that had room for eight of us for dinner. This usually included walking for what seemed like forever. Last year we made the trip to China Town to one of my favorite places in the city, Wo Hops. Wo Hops is a no frills spot where you drink soda from the can, and can share any of their 250 menu items family style. Wo Hops has been a 24 hour treat since the 70s. As is often the case there was line down the street when we arrived, but the gods were shining on our party of 8, and a table just our size opened up quickly.
This year, as with many other facets of our lives, our annual pilgrimage has been derailed. No trip to see family and friends, and no train ride to the city. As we watched Home Alone 2 Lost in New York (the original Home Alone is my favorite) we realized just how much we were going to miss our yearly trip. We found ourselves pointing out places that Kevin McAllister, the main character from the film, was visiting that we have visited. 2020 has made me realize just how much all of the things that we have done with little if any thought of how special they were. Going to New York was always a given. It was just a short car ride that we have taken several times a year since moving to Maryland over 16 years ago. Seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center was a part of the holidays that just happened.
This year we have started new holiday traditions. As a family (and that’s the best part) we baked, and decorated over twenty dozen assorted Christmas cookies. Family favorites that included Ginger Bread cookies, Sugar cookies, Peanut Butter Thumb Print cookies with a Hershey’s kiss center, and two types of Chocolate Chip cookies. We mixed, rolled, cut and iced these treats to share with as many families as we possibly could. Sitting around our dinning room table together made me realize that as much as I miss spending time with friends and family, spending time with my amazing wife and my two boys makes me a very lucky man. Each of us added our own special touch to the decorating, including special boxes wrapped in ribbon made by my wife for delivery. We all enjoyed nightly trips to view Christmas lights on our way to drop off our treats. Nightly drives to see Christmas lights has been an annual tradition for us, but this year my wife found a way to kick it up a notch. She may regret letting me get my hands on it, but she found the Official Carpool Karaoke Microphone. The microphone plays through whatever FM station you pick, and you can sync it to your phone to play songs through that station as well, allowing you to sing along to all of your holiday favorites. We all took great delight in dropping off cookies on our friends doorstep, and then serenading them when they came outside. My personal favorite is Dominic the Donkey. At each house entire families would soon gather on their doorsteps to join in the fun. This simple silly gesture brightened many a night. I look forward to next year when we can enjoy the holidays with family again, but I look forward to baking cookies with my family, sharing them with friends, and sharing my gift for music. Wishing you a Happy New Year!