This will be a relatively short edition, but I wanted to cover the emotions, sights and sounds surrounding the end of the holiday season for a kid growing up in New York.
As Robert and I have both eluded to in other posts, the Holidays were magical for us, family gatherings being the centerpiece. Again,as previously mentioned, each major day was spent at the home or apartment of a different family member, I.E., Christmas Eve at our apartment in Manhattan, Christmas Day at Aunt Ruth’s house in Brooklyn and then, later, in New Jersey and New Years Day at Aunt Mary’s in Queens.
It’s the later part of New Year’s Day that I want to focus on for a moment.
As with all the other “days”, the adults spent the majority of the day having fellowship and,at times, major debates, around the dinner table. After the main course, there was the pastry and fruit and nuts… later in the evening the cold cuts and the sandwiches and maybe a bit more wine.
For us kids, it was play time after the main course. We would head upstairs to one of the upper two levels of the brownstone for games, such as hide and seek ,tag and many other made up games. We dreaded hearing these words;
“Boys, it’s time to go….”
This was it…. the “time to go” on New Years night signaled the end of this wonderful season for us.
The goodbyes were somber; it would be awhile before we were all together again, and worse yet, tomorrow reality set in with a return to school. I dreaded that. I never liked school in my young years. As I have mentioned, I was not popular, had few friends and felt like an outcast. I had all that to look forward to tomorrow morning.
The ride home in Dad’s Desoto took us down Queens Boulevard to the midtown tunnel. The Boulevard was quiet on this New Years night. Few cars joined us on our way back to Manhattan. Obviously, this is an odd, unusual feeling for any part of New York City and it only added to the depressed feeling that was setting in.
Once we exited the tunnel, we would inevitably see a few Christmas trees already discarded in the streets, many of them with some stubborn tinsel bravely clinging on to the bitter end. This sight always brought me lower. And the Streets! These very streets that only a week ago were alive with excited shoppers and revelers were now dark and quiet. Even the street lights seemed to be duller, sorry to see the happy crowds gone.
Driving down 7th or 8th avenue, we noticed that there were still a few apartments with Christmas lights blinking in lonely fashion in their windows, but all was quiet. I don’t think Rob and I exchanged two words on the way home; we were lost in our own thoughts and apprehensions.
When we reached the apartment, the entire neighborhood appeared to have undergone a transition from celebration and festivity to resolved inevitability.
After dad opened the door, we silently walked into the darkened living room. The Tree was still there , on the entertainment center, but we didn’t bother to turn on the lights.
The Holidays were over, you see.