Christmas past

Lisa and Trish, Rockefeller Center 1984

Growing up in New Jersey, our family made a yearly trip into New York City around Christmas time. It was always a magical place to me- sparkling with lights, the smells of roasted chestnuts and hot pretzels, staying in a big hotel with a fancy lobby. I remember being almost as excited for our yearly trip than I was for santa himself to visit our house.

We stayed in the Sheraton most of the time when we went, often seeing a play or the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, which I was too young to be snarky and sarcastic about yet. There was an indoor pool at the hotel and my sister and I got to go in once or twice, back when swimming was a huge obsession of ours. The pool room was dim, and smelled like strong chlorine, and it had an aqua cast to the lighting from the underwater pool lights. There was some fitness equipment in the room also, if I remember. A rowing machine, which I think my mom yelled at me for messing around on.

I remember one year in particular, Christmas 1987. I remember the year because Muppet Family Christmas was premiering on tv and I was psyched to watch it in the hotel room. My mom and dad had bought Lisa and I some hot chocolate, and me a balloon with another, smaller balloon inflated inside it which I was seriously impressed by. As the Muppets were caroling away on the tiny tv, I sat at the hotel room desk, my hot chocolate in front of me and my magic balloon in my hands. I was bouncing it around and being a jerk, when it knocked into my paper hot chocolate cup, and the creamy yummy chocolate splashed everywhere! There was sudden chaos, as my mother scrambled to stop the downpour of deliciousness as it hit the carpet. I quickly grabbed my cup and prayed it wasn’t all wasted, and my balloon floated up to the ceiling, momentarily forgotten in the melee.

It’s these little moments that I remember. Not how much money my parents probably spent to take us to NY each year for an overnight stay, not how perfect our tree was or wasn’t. It’s stuff like this that I think about and smile. There was always such a sense of excitement and wonder about Christmas back then, and I try so hard to never forget that feeling.

This is one of my favorite christmas pictures, just look at how much I’m concentrating on opening that present in my lap. I was so into it I even dropped that fucked up doll I was probably hugging close to my chest only minutes before.

So thank you, Mom and Dad. Your efforts were never wasted to make our Christmases special.

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3 responses

  1. This is a great post! I love those pictures, too. We really did have an awesome childhood, didn’t we? I feel so lucky. So many fun, happy memories! Mom, Dad, Gran and Pop-Pop made Christmas so great for us. I totally remember all the details about that Sheraton hotel, too… and yes, it was a rowing machine that was next to the pool! Mom didn’t want us going on it when we were all wet. I remember I accidentally walking in on a naked lady showering in the locker room near the pool, and I was mortified!

    The hot chocolate spilled all over my new, white stuffed cat, too. I remember it b/c its fur always had a vague chocolate-smell after that. :-)

    I feel almost like I’m gonna cry… those memories of NYC at Christmas mean so much. I miss it, every year. There’s nothing like it. I want to smell those chestnuts and pretzels, hear the car horns mixed with the Salvation Army Santa bells, and get all excited to walk up 5th Avenue to look in the decorated store windows before we had dinner at Beefsteak Charlie’s. Hey, do you remember that one year we saw “Lady and the Tramp” at an old movie theater right behind Radio City Music Hall? It had the big red curtains that parted before the movie and everything… it was so “Annie.” Awww, that was so fun! I love you, Trish!

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