I’ll be home for Christmas

Published 12:30 pm Sunday, December 10, 2023

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The past few days my wife and I have enjoyed the sights and sounds of New York City.  We love to visit the Big Apple any time of year, but Christmas makes the city magical.  Perhaps Bing Crosby captured it best with his lyrics in the Christmas movie classic, “Silver Bells”.

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday cheer.  In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas”.   Truer words were never sung.   Everywhere we walked the sidewalks were crowded.  A rainy Sunday did not slow anyone down. It was still a busy sidewalk only with thousands of umbrellas bobbing and weaving along the way.

We came to New York shortly after 911.  We also made our way here as the city was still partially shut down following the pandemic.  Make no mistake, New York City is back stronger than ever.  Every restaurant has a waiting list, every theater is full, and every sidewalk is indeed busy.

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Following our flight from Atlanta, we endured a cab ride to our hotel that took longer than the flight.  Two lessons learned.  First, patience is always a virtue when traveling.  Second, never schedule a flight to New York City arriving on a rainy Friday afternoon.  I saw my first electronic traffic alert signs warning of gridlock.  They were accurate.

We made it to the hotel just in time to grab a bite to eat and make it to our show at the Broadhurst Theater.   The Neil Diamond Musical. A Beautiful Noise was amazing.  Neil Diamond was one of the most popular singers of his/my time and the show artfully wove the story of his music with the story of his life.  It may have been the first musical performance I ever attended that I knew every single song.

We made our way back through Times Square where we replicated a photo that we have taken every time we have made it to that iconic spot.  We had a late-night meal at “Junior’s”, a diner popular with not just the after-theater crowd, but with anyone else that enjoys good deli food and even better cheesecake.    

After Mary Lou’s book club read The Personal Librarian, an extraordinary book about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, she wanted to visit the Morgan Library and Museum at 36th and Madison.   I was expecting a stodgy museum in an old mansion.  I was so wrong on so many levels.

The Morgan Library is larger than expected, but more intimate than some of the massive museums in New York City.  The museum’s collection is incredible on so many levels.  Of particular interest to me, the museum owns three Gutenberg Bibles, as well as original scores written by Beethoven, Handel, Chopin, and many others.  Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of A Christmas Carol is on display, complete with his notes and corrections.  Each year, the curators turn a page of the fragile book.

The day concluded with a reception at the United Nations with a dramatic view of the East River.  Hundreds of people, all with some connection to Auburn University, gathered at the official beginning of the festivities that brought us to the city in the first place.

A dozen people decided to head to Junior’s yet again where we enjoyed several hours of spirited fellowship, following a 45-minute wait.  Remember, it is all about patience.

Monday, we ate at Astro Diner, a favorite for many years.  It is a small diner, with even smaller tables, that serves diners quickly, and efficiently, with a cramped energy that would never work outside a huge city.  My reason for always going back is simple.  They serve the best grits in New York.

Mary Lou and I then strolled the city, learning long ago not to overschedule visits.  A nap in New York City after a few days is a luxury and more welcomed than most.

Our final event was a black-tie event held at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. The night sky was clear, and the lights of the city shone brightly in every direction.   Ironically, two couples from Southwest Georgia, Mark & Annette Burkett, and Marcus & Katrice Carter, were also at the event, confirming the old adage that you must behave everywhere you go.

I am finishing this article in the Delta Club at JFK Airport.  In the background I hear Bing Crosby singing yet another song from the Christmas classic “White Christmas”.  “I’ll be home for Christmas” is especially appropriate after five fun-filled days in New York.  It is always good to be headed home.