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Carol Perkins: New York City at Christmas

Carol and her group have delightful time in New York City at its busiest time fo the year. She notes that people are alike, everywhere - especially the bonds between cafes and their 'regulars,' and group has new great friends at Lindy's. And, as she left, a very pleasant surprise, seeing folks from home at the airport.
Last week's column: Carol Perkins: Identity crisis at airport security

By Carol Perkins

New York City at Christmas is like no place else on earth.

For that reason, my friend Judy and I decided to become "tour guides" and take a group of women to the Big Apple for the lights, the tree, the plays, and the Rockettes. We weren't the only ones with this plan. The first week in December brings more tourists to the city than during any other time of the year because of the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center and shopping at the many famous department stores.

There were twelve of us and none wanted to miss any part of the city for the five days we were there, so we didn't.

We arrived on Tuesday to a downpour but we splashed our way around Rockefeller Center waiting to begin the first leg of the trip, the spectacular Christmas show presented by the renowned Rockettes.

If any one of us was not in the spirit of Christmas going into the show, we certainly were coming out. At the end of the performance was a majestic live nativity scene with real animals including two camels. Maybe it was only one that kept reappearing, but it was there. In such a politically correct society whose goal is not to offend anyone, we were amazed that the birth of Christ was part of the show.

Even with the time spent on tours and plays, we ventured off in groups based on personal interest. Some went to museums and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty while others rode the subway to Chinatown, toured Grand Central Station and shopped in Bryant Park and Macy's. One in the group ran in a city event, two went to Good Morning America, and others covered Fifth Avenue and the Diamond District. At the end of the day, we felt as if we had run, too. The city was safe. Police officers were plentiful. Tourists were not afraid to do what they had come to do.

The highlights of spending time in New York at Christmas are the lighting of the tree, the ice skaters gliding around the rinks, and the fabulous window decorations at places like Saks, Lord and Taylor, Bloomingdale's and Macy's. All department stores and hotels were lavishly decorated, but we did notice that there were no candles in windows and very few Christmas trees in high-rise apartment buildings. I asked the tour guide about this and should have realized the reason.

"Many of the residents of the city are non-Christians. They are from all over the world and do believe in Jesus." This man was Jewish. Whereas we may not know anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus in our hometown, in cities like New York there are entire populations who do not.

Each night before returning to our rooms at the Sheraton Times Square, we gathered at a neighborhood restaurant (Lindy's) for cheesecake or some other desserts and relived the day.

We made friends with the waitresses and waiters and hugged them when we left (it's not just a Southern thing).

When we were at the airport ready for our journey home, I thought I recognized a lady from Barren County, so I said her name very softly in case it wasn't her.

If she looked up, I knew I had just run into Madonna Young. Sure enough, Madonna and a group of twelve others had been in New York during the same time we were. We were all on the same flight home.

There is indeed no place like home for the holidays, but New York City might come in second. At least it does for me.

This story was posted on 2015-12-09 07:08:57
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