It could not be the Christmas season without our traditional jaunt to Rockefeller center to see “The Tree”. That’s how we referred to it : “The Tree”. There was no other. The tree that graced Rockefeller Center was the one and only. It’s become a world-wide symbol of the Christmas Season in New York. Mom, Dad , Robert and I were a few of the thousands who crowded the sidewalks around the Center and the ice Skating Rick to view the magnificent Tree.
The Tree has been a tradition in New York since 1933, and for Rob and I, a tradition as far back as we can remember. It was another wonderful, simple evening that our parents gave us to help create the magical feel of Christmas for their kids.
The evening started with a quick dinner when Dad got home from work and then a short subway ride to Rockefeller Center. Simply emerging from the Subway station on 6th avenue and the brief walk to 5th avenue was magical in itself. The city was ablaze in lights and Christmas music echoed from the stores and shops. If it was a good , cold night, the mood was even better: you know?, one of those see your breath nights? Yep, then it was perfect.
As we followed the crowds to the opening that was Rockefeller Center, the skating rink would come into view and there we would stand, watching the skaters under the backdrop on the Norway Spruce. Decorated top to bottom with beautiful lights and ornaments, the 70 to 100 foot tall tree was a sight to behold. Christmas music was pumped in for our listening pleasure and for the skaters to “dance to”. ( there was always a “show-off” or two who fell flat in their faces) Dad would buy a couple of warm, giant New York Pretzels or a bag or two of over priced chestnuts. Lord , did Mom love Chestnuts. Of course, the vendors roasted them over an open fire…. perfect.
After we had our fill of the view and the skating we would cross 5th avenue for our traditional visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral. I have previously written about this, so suffice it to say , it was a beautiful way to close out the evening before heading home.
One quick funny remembrance. There was a year it was so cold , Dad thought it wise to take his car, so we wouldn’t have to walk far in the cold. Bad idea. This was New York at Christmas time and there were no parking places to be found
within miles of the Center. Mom knew better, but only offered one,
small; ” are you sure this is a good idea?” as we piled into his old Desoto. Needless to say, we never found a place to park and dad grew more agitated by the moment. Rob and I sat in the back seat trying to hold back laughter: this was classic “Dad”. After driving endlessly around block after block he gave up. We dove past Rockefeller Center with Dad cussing up a storm in Italian. As we drive past he practically shouted ; “There’s the damned tree! Take a look!”
We could hold it no and broke down into hysterical laughter.
As I see the Tree lightning on television today, my mind always goes back to those wonderful memories and I thank God that we had parents who tried so hard to give us beautiful Christmas memories.
I need Chestnuts.