After our expected 3.5 hour drive turned into 7, and our usual 20 minute bedtime ritual turned into 2 hours, we all finally got to sleep crazy late at our friend's apartment in NYC. When we finally woke up we decided to try to make the best of what was left of a seriously rainy Christmas Eve day. So we subwayed to 42nd St, made our way in the pouring rain to Rockefeller Center, and there--behold!--was the tree of Bambina's dreams. The tree she has talked about for weeks. The tree we looked up on the internet every day for a week. The tree she spent 10 seconds admiring and then ignored in favor of the ice skaters on the Rock Plaza rink. When I say "in favor of," I mean that we stood there rapt for 10 full minutes. In the driving rain. In wind blowing so hard we could barely hear ourselves speak over the clanking and flapping of the many surrounding flags and their tethers. She was fixated on a blond woman in a MILFy Mrs. Claus-type outfit, skating around the rink like a pro. We studied her so closely we realized that she was of Asian descent, was wearing a wig, and was clearly in the employ of some NBC-related pseudo-Rockette ice show enterprise.
We finally managed to tear Bambina away from the rink and found shelter in the nearby Nintendo World store. For the next hour Bambina and the BBDD engaged in various Wii games from soccer to tightrope walking to football. The BBDD was particularly proud of his first-timer daughter's solid performance with Madden Football. I was excited for them but bored for myself. I fall into that category of person who wants to like video games, totally understands why people love video games, and totally sees how video games (when used for good and not evil) can enhance aspects of a person's or family's life. I get it. I just don't get it so much that I want to do it myself. Maybe I'm such a control freak that I'm afraid it will all become a giant slippery slope. You know, today Wii tightrope, tomorrow unemployment with a side of living in mom's basement? I think the BBDD agrees since he said as we finally left the store, "Oh my god, we seriously can NEVER buy one of these!"
What we did buy were lots of Purell and lots of zyrtec. Purell for me, of course. Zyrtec for the BBDD's raging cat allergy that he didn't mention to his friend (as in, the out-of-town friend who owns a cat, and in whose Greenwich Village apartment we were staying). Apparently Bambina has a situation as well, because her eyes did not stop itching the entire time we were there. Notwithstanding the allergies, the apartment was AWESOME. Not the least of which because the view looks like this: Red/Green for Christmas, Blue/White for Chanukah.
Which is why I love New York. A family of three Jews--all looking as different from each other as a trio could possibly look--walk into a kosher deli, and exactly no one gives a shit. We get on the subway and half the car looks like us--and there ain't even a convention in town. It's freeing in a very real way to just...be...and to be of precisely zero interest as a family to anyone in your vicinity. You can talk about the loneliness of big cities all you want, but we've got friends; we don't need to make any with curious strangers on the bus.
At the same time, our biggest disappointment so far is that (unlike our Christmas/Chanukah in NYC years ago) we have not had the Lubavitch experience. Specifically, three guys jumped out of a car sporting a giant menorah on the roof. They asked, "Are you Jewish?" The BBDD, fresh out of our life experiment as Jews in Georgia (and failing to notice the GIANT MENORAH ON THE ROOF), balls his fists up, gets in Fight Club stance and says in his "go ahead punk" voice, "Who wants to know?" They answer rather jollily, "We do!" and hand us a free menorah, candles, prayer book and gelt and take off again in their Honda Chasid to find all the other un-menorahed Jews in the naked city. It's a story Bambina cannot hear enough, to the extent that I may have to hire some guys to accost us just so she doesn't go home dejected. We'll see.
In any case, today was a day of surprises. We traveled to see the tree and loved the rink instead. We ran to escape the rain and discovered our daughter's hidden NFL talents. We ate at the 2nd Avenue Deli--now at 33rd and 3rd. We loved being anonymous, but secretly hoped a car full of Jews would spot us a mile away.