After many years of consuming your delightful culture, I am somewhat perplexed and dare I say it? - a little disappointed with my New York Christmas Experience. Granted, there was 2 nights in Washington DC and we drove home in 6.5 hours of continuos storm that shut down freeways and airports along the east coast the day before Christmas Eve (is that Christmas Eve Eve or Christmas Eve squared or maybe we should just stick with Wednesday), and we went out on Christmas Eve to by Christmas presents, and the was no family or friends to visit on Christmas day, but come on - none of that should affect the dream should it?
Firstly -There were no carollers standing outside my apartment building not one, not any of the multitude of times I left or re-entered. I would have been happy with them being on the street outside my lounge room window and going out on the 4th floor rusty fire escape (those of you that know me well know my extreme fear of heights), I would have sat out there for hours listening and singing along, before showering them with money to assist them in their good deeds. Granted some of them may have been injured as the coins became shrapnel from that height but I’m sure they would have carried on, strong in the knowledge that the Christmas spirit would see them through.
Secondly - What is up with Happy Holidays??? They are all on seperate days, even different weeks. Why not just go with Happy Ramadan (or Ramadan Mubarak) and Happy Thanksgiving, then Happy Hanukkah followed by Merry Christmas and finally Happy Kwanzaa?? This seems way more inclusive and shows respect for each cultural celebration - it also allows people from other cultures to join in, not only understanding whats happening but participating, it spreads understanding and not just tolerance but acceptance. Also, I’d be up for 5 celebrations rather than one! Who wouldn’t?? OK, there are those that wouldn’t, but they can continue to stick there heads in the sand and be miserable, that’s their prerogative, especially if they do it under their own rock.
Thirdly - There were no family “discussions” (read arguments), no father telling the best (read worst) dad jokes ever, no mother to over feed me and mine, no leftovers to last a week. No running family gags to re-live and expand on. OK, don’t tell the Momma this, but after Boxing Day, anything left gets tossed because there is only so much Lasagne, Glazed Ham, Turkey, and vegetables you can eat in a row. Although, in recent years, the Lasagne has turned into a “here’s one we prepared earlier” spare frozen tray made specifically for taking home so we don’t have that until later in the week, closer to New Years. I’ve got the best Momma. There was no-one to commiserate with over the communal food coma we were in. No brothers and sisters (including in-laws) to accuse of cheating (or be accused by) in the card/board games that followed.
Ok the whole third point is not your fault, I fully blame my family for not accepting our offer to travel over here and squat on the spare mattress, sofas and lounge room floors for Christmas. Bad Family!!!
So instead we had to make our own tradition - our own Christmas, New York Style, we have named it - Twenwy Christmas. Here’s how it goes:
- Do not buy any Christmas presents, for anyone, agree to spend TENwy dollars (between 10 & 20) and go out on Christmas Eve to buy Kris Kringle style gifts. Gifts should be as thoughtful and fun as is appropriate given the recipient, the price range and the lack of time to source an appropriate gift. Agree that TENwy is nowhere near enough and then agree to spend Twenwy dollars (between 20 & 30). Wake up late on Christmas Eve and don’t leave the house until 11am (12.30 if you’re the kids). Wander around, give up on Twenwy, but justify how the $35 gift when combined with the other $25 and $12.95 and $6.95 gifts is in fact a multiple of Twenwy and therefore perfectly acceptable. Do not tell the kids that it’s more than Twenwy. Check the location of the kids on the find my iPhone app - yes there is time to do washing and wrap their gifts before they get home. Christmas presents under the tree, laundry done, kids not home - kick back and relax. After the kids return, realise there is no food in the apartment and do a mad rush to the supermarket (which has already closed for Christmas) before emergency googling open supermarkets. Race to another supermarket, buy food for Dinner, Christmas breakfast and Christmas Dinner. Race home and wait for the appropriate time to call home.
- FaceTime home. Heavily co-ordinated time for all family members around the world to be video conferencing at the same time (brother and sister-in-law in Ohio; parents, sister, brother-in-law and oh-so-cute niece back in Oz). Many accusations of family abandonment (may have been 1 or 2), kids climbing all over me to get in the frame, many smiles and much love. At least we missed the heat!! Cruel sister shows you all the food you are missing out on. More laughter and more climbing.
- GO TO BED at 12.30am
- Wake late and open gifts before eating breakfast and playing with/appreciating the Christmas gifts. Rush to get ready for 12pm booking for Christmas lunch at ABC Cocina, sing Christmas carols on the subway and down 19th Street because you can.
- OVER EAT - there are some Christmas traditions you just cannot let go. Order way too much Christmas Tapas and too much Sangria - a carafe for 2 and then wander around Manhattan for a couple of hours to walk it off (ha! Not possible). Call out squirrel, whenever you see a squirrel in Madison Square Park, smile when those around you look around to find the squirrel and then get excited at watching them. Return to the apartment to crash. Wake up and cook a roast - eat, again, even though there is no room left.
- Call local(ish) family. Contact Brother and Sister-in-law in Ohio, spend 2 hours lamenting the lack of proper Aussie bacon and decent bread, as well as many other poignant issues facing ex-pats in the USA. Much laughter and commiseration, off to bed to collapse again.
And that my dear friends is how the Twenwy Christmas was born. We look forward to having your company next year on Christmas Eve for another Twenwy Christmas, where the gene pool hopefully will be significantly expanded.