A Pre-Christmas Day in New York

Even the drive into Manhattan was exciting, but I’ll not share the distant photos or the shots of buildings that are ho-hum to many. We posed in the entrance of St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue – grandson David, John, sister Barbara, Sophie, brother Thom, and Sara. Sophie lives in Barbara’s and Thom’s home, and her cousin Sara is visiting for the Christmas break. This was Sara’s first visit to New York.

We had pews near the front for the noon service of lessons and carols.

From my seat, I took a photo of the front of the church. The huge Advent wreath was prominent. I wanted to show the creche in the center, too.

It’s the norm for the choir to have a quick rehearsal just before the service, and we’re often early enough to hear it. John immediately noticed that only the men were practicing. He had a feeling the boys were not going to sing, even though they were on the schedule to be there. Sure enough, the rector announced that because of the danger of ice falling, the boys were not allowed to leave their residence a few blocks away. He said there was heightened awareness of danger because a woman had been killed by falling debris only a few days before. Ice from sleet the night before was the present danger. As the service progressed, we became aware of how that affected what we heard. The twelve men would normally have sung the bass, tenor, and counter tenor (alto) lines. Boys always sing the top line. Five of the men shifted to share the soprano and alto lines, parts they had not rehearsed before. The director stood with them and was singing, something he normally would not do. The choir sounded as if they had intended to sing the music that way all along. We were totally impressed with their mastery of this quick change.

As the service ended, John looked back and said, “You won’t believe how many people are here. The church is full.” It’s amazing that so many came at noon on a Wednesday.

We approached the tree at Rockefeller Center from the back.

I took David’s face with the trunk of the tree to show how large the tree was. Santa Claus was skating at the ice rink in front of the tree. The skaters and crowds were enjoying him.

We walked around to the side where I took a shot of the tree that included the waterfall behind the golden statue. You might have to use imagination to see that.

I pushed myself to keep up the New York pace of walking. People appeared to be just walking, and I was almost running. I think I kept my tongue inside my mouth, but a dog would have been panting! There were people from many nations, identifiable by appearance and/or language.

One mini-conversation in English made me laugh. A man was loudly telling his companion, “I saw Bill there. He was in my class in school.”

The woman rolled her eyes outrageously and said softly and clearly, “Shut up!”

Barbara had wanted us to eat at a special restaurant where the wait staff sing to you at your table. They are actors hoping to land a part in a musical. The line to get in was too long, so John drove us to Queens to eat. Sophie,with her musical laugh, and Sara, with her beaming smile, were happy to experience a meal at a New York diner.

As we finished eating, a snow squall worked its magic, turning everything white. Thom, Barbara, and David posed with the snow before getting in the car.

Traffic was very heavy on the way out. We had five minutes to spare before the Advent service at our old church in Setauket. Friend Ruth had all the Chrismons laid out, and Thom and Liann shared the symbolism of the ornaments. Everyone participated in hanging them on the trees. That is instant decorating! How wonderful it was to see our former church family there!

I think we were gone about 12 hours, having a marvelous day with people we love.

32 thoughts on “A Pre-Christmas Day in New York

  1. When it looks more Christmassy with the snow and it sounds more Christmassy with the carols it makes Christmas appear for me and I ca put up with anything…..except all the things people seem to delight in at this time of year, theft, murder, cruelty to animals. This is a time of peace that should be extended throughout the year.
    May you have a beautiful, peaceful Christmas, full of joy.
    Humongous Hugs

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  2. What an amazing experience. If I’d known about it I would have joined you. Wednesday is one of my days off. Ah well. Loved the pics and enjoying the experience vicariously.

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  3. Lovely post and photos Anne! Drive safely back. I’m using this opportunity to wish you and family a blessed Christmas and new year. I’ve been a bit awol or mia lately but now I have a bit of time 🙂

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  4. You avoided the ice that blanketed the area just to your east. I hate ice and it was followed by very cold air so the ice is still there. Great quick trip into the city. I will wait until it is a little less crowded.

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  5. What a fabulous and fun time! It’s interesting seeing the contrast between the huge church with all the trappings in the first pic, and later the small and cozy family-type church… both lovely in their own way! As a lapsed Jew I live with a lapsed Christian (who still sings in the choir at his United Church where he’s gone since childhood). (John tells me this United denomination here in Canada is a combo of Methodist, Congregationalist and Presbyterian, though not all of them joined!) I can imagine the choir there sounded so beautiful. I love choral singing, religious or not.

    How sad and awful that a woman was killed by falling ice!!

    That’s some journey to drive home 750 miles – in one day?!? John did it all, or did you drive part of it too?

    My first journey to New York as an adult was also in December – 2005 – to visit my son who still lives in DUMBO, Brooklyn, with his wife. I was bowled over by all the Xmas decorations – especially in Bloomingdales!

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      1. Ha, good one, Anne! Actually we’re more like dip-toes-in-the-water types! You left at 5:00 this morning? So… you mean you left at *night* then. Cuz it was darrrrrrk, right? 😀 I still think that’s a heckuva drive to do in one day, amazing!

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