Christmas Day in New York! What ever did we do?! Yup. Dim sum in Chinatown. We all love Chinatown, especially New York's. Especially now that she can sing and speak a little Chinese, Bambina is less freaked out by Chinese ladies cooing all over her. Her coping mechanism is to say "Nie Hao" and start singing her song about two tigers running: "Liang ge lao hu, liang ge lao hu; pao de kuai pao de kuai..." Gets 'em every time. The only issue is that in Chinatown the primary language is Cantonese, which they expect her to speak being that she's from Guangdong. Which is when I chime in with my limited Chinese to say that we are learning Zhongwen (Mandarin) for now and will learn Zongguohua (Cantonese) next. They seem okay with it, but maybe they are either impressed that we can "speak" Chinese at all--or they are trying to figure out what the hell I just said. Either way, we ate more food than any trio should ever consume in one sitting. We were our own little band of jolly fat elves, in honor of the day.
We then bought our new qipaos for the upcoming Chinese New Year (January 26). As requested by Bambina, we got matching dresses, both red. I think I am rocking the red dress, y'all. The last pink one was fine, but this red one is all me. The BBDD narrowly missed having to purchase the men's outfit because just as Bambina was getting fixed on him getting one, the lady brought over matching red silk shoes for her and that was that.
After the shopping we went to Bryant Park to ice skate. (She had received kiddie double-blade skates for Chanukah the night before). In addition to the Rockefeller Tree, the ice skating at Rock Center was another obsession for the trip. "Unfortunately" the ridiculously expensive Rockefeller Plaza rink was closed on Christmas Day, but Bryant Park (the FREE ice rink) was open. So off we went. By which I mean that the BBDD and Bambina went on the ice (partly because I didn't want to fall and require a hospital visit in a strange city, even if for a broken arm--like I need another health problem, right? Also partly because the skating is free but the skate rental and storage lockers are extortionate). So I took the pics of my wee Bambina taking her first steps out onto the ice--and continued to take pics for TWO HOURS, since the child would not leave. It was pretty damn awesome to see her absolutely love something even though it was clear she was nervous and a bit out of her depth.
(And very important program note: if you need a public toilet in NYC, do use the ones at Bryant Park. They have a full-time attendant who is not only friendly but dedicated as well; I actually thanked her as we left for keeping such a great bathroom. That lady took pride in her work, which is perhaps a lesson for those of us in "better" jobs; whatever you do, do it like it matters, because, for me, it mattered. I really needed a clean bathroom that day and would have been either screwed or freaked out without this lady's top notch job performance at something most people would think is beneath them).
That evening we reflected on the fact that it's a bit weird to have just had a "regular day" that most of the country sees as special. I forget sometimes that people wait in anticipation for this day for weeks, that it is magical for many kids, and that it is a giant big deal for many families. It's very easy to forget when you're in NYC, because with a few restaurant and store exceptions, the city is open--especially in the Lower East Side with our fellow juifs and chinoises. We literally marvelled at the fact that, excepting the closed Dunkin Donuts that AM (but open when we got back in the afternoon!), you could easily wander around large swaths of NYC and have no idea it is Christmas Day.
Bambina is completely cool with Christmas, mostly because we don't freak out about her, for example, loving the Rockefeller Tree. I think stuff like that backfires on the non-Christian parent because who in their right mind doesn't like looking at a pretty, magical, sparkly tree?!--and now it's a bad thing? That's a crazy thing to tell a kid. She completely gets that we don't have one in our house because we do not celebrate that holiday, any more than her Catholic cousin would light up a menorah in her house; and she's cool with it precisely because we don't talk about Christmas as something to be avoided (how do you denigrate a holiday members of your family and dear, dear friends celebrate?), but rather we spend the time making OUR holiday special to her. She won't long for Christmas if she's too busy feeling nostalgia for the glory days of those Chanukahs of her youth where she first ice skated in New York, first discovered the Wii, and (hopefully) first got accosted by the car full of Chasids. :)
In the meantime she has written a song for her and for her cousins and friends who celebrate each holiday. She composed it last night on the BBDD's friend's keyboard:
"How are you? How are you?
How are you? I am fine, thank you.
Thank you God, Thank you God
Thank you God for Chanukah and Christmas!"
And to all a good night!