CI: 200 Years of Solitude
28 November 2016
I can remember this day like it was yesterday. Growing up in New York City I never really experienced the Christmases you see in the seasonal movies, but my experience was unique and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. After Thanksgiving, because one cannot even begin to think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over my family and would take my best friend and me Upstate to pick out a tree from Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers, New York. It was an annual tradition I am sad to say no longer exists. But enough of that sad stuff, I am her to tell you about a magnificent day many years ago.
Bright and early one Saturday morning my dad loaded us in the big green suburban I still drive today, and drove us what seemed like many hours to a ten-year-old, but was only about a thirty-minute drive. I can remember the city melting away into the beautiful trees coated in white snow, and when you rolled down your window you weren’t accosted with the stench of the city, but enveloped in the warm aroma of fallen leaves and the brisk cold. The drive was always magnificent because I was allowed to control the auxiliary cord and that meant either the Elf soundtrack was playing or I was blasting Hillary Duff’s Christmas Album. While the drive was always amazing, it didn’t even come close to what the day had in store.
I can remember becoming extremely impatient nearing the superstore because there were huge signs starting at about 3 miles out. I could not wait to run around the huge supermarket unattended with my best friend.
The time had come and our car was parked. We stepped out into the brisk morning and made our way to what seemed to be heaven. There were not many big supermarkets in the city, so to Sophia and me being native New Yorkers, this was a big treat. We walked into the building as a family unit, but the moment Sophia and my eyes caught sight of all the food and fun we bolted with empty promises of us staying together. I mean, how can you expect two ten-year-olds to stay put when brought into a huge building full of free samples, candy, talking bananas (we’ll get to that in a bit), and oh so many people? The answer is, you simply cannot. By simply walking in and feeling the warm air on my reddened, chapped face was enough to make a little girl happy. The first thing I saw when I walked in was an insane vegetable display, which would be a turnoff for many children, but this was such a special day that I could not possibly turn my nose up to just anything! As Sophia and I continued our adventure through the store we came upon the fruit section, and in the fruit section was a giant singing banana. Sophia and I would spend what seemed like hours pressing the button for her to sing the “Chiquita Banana” song. Ten-year-olds are easily amused. Next, we would wonder into the meat and dairy section where if you looked just at the meat packing area, you could see a family of animatronic cows singing and playing banjos, washing boards, and other instruments New Yorkers believed to be country and hick. After we had our cow band fix, we would venture off into the candy section where we would beg and beg my parents to buy us something, but alas, we never got any candy. The one treat I remember getting from Stew Leonard’s was their delicious chocolate milk which I had to finish inside because bring an ice-cold beverage outside was torture on your poor hands.
Once my mother was content with her purchases we would take the groceries out to the car and head back to the store to choose our Christmas tree. Stew Leonard’s had an amazing display of freshly cut trees just outside of their store, and that is where we purchased our tree for many years, and each of those years we brought Sophia along. I can remember being a small person amid hundreds of beautiful trees and just being taken aback by the different shapes, colors, and sizes. Because I was only ten and had the attention span of a squirrel, Sophia and I would run off and run throughout the trees as if we were in a forest. Sitting in the freezing cold with my best friend is one of my fondest memories because we were so small compared to the trees we were hiding behind.
Once my parents chose a few trees for me to have the final say (I would always choose the largest one to my mother’s dismay), we would drive through the line of cars for the workers to tie our tree to the roof of our car. Even though we were through with shopping and choosing our tree, the day was not over quite yet. The time would be about eleven to twelve, and it was time for us to eat! Every year on our way back home, we would drive through Little Italy and stop at a quaint Italian restaurant to have an authentic meal. We would order heaping plates of pasta and seafood, Sophia and I would enjoy some Coca-Cola while my parents sipped on a few glasses of Limoncello. Once we finished our meal, it was back to the green suburban with the huge tree. Of course, I would play Hillary Duff’s “Tell Me a Story” featuring Li’l Romeo, and we would drive with full bellies and happy hearts home to our loud city. Christmastime is not always the easiest holiday for my family and me, but I am grateful to have such pleasant and happy memories to ponder when I am having a less than happy day. The holidays are times for cheer and laughter, and I have many memories of cheer and laughter with the ones I love.