Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Tale of Three Christmases

One of the blessings/curses of having divorced parents means dual holidays.  Usually when the kids are younger, the parents do some sort of swap, like Dad's for Christmas and Mom's for Thanksgiving.  I vividly remember getting gifts on Christmas morning that had to be put down at noon, because my Dad was there at 12:00 PM sharp.  Ahhh...memories.  So this December, I actually had three Christmases.  Let's look at them, shall we?

Christmas #1: Mom and Stepfather

This is the house that I most identify Christmas with, having grown up there.  Generally the home is full of Christmas music and Christmas cookies and egg nog.  We did Secret Santa to cut down on costs, but everyone gets a stocking stuffer.  I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but it turns out that stocking stuffers are often a lot cooler than actual presents.  I got running headphones.  My stocking stuffers included Gummy Bacon, a NYC survival guide, and assorted other useful things.  We ended up giving out lots of gifts from ThinkGeek, like stuffed animals shaped like microbes and I gave my Step-Dad an F bomb.  I thought it was a pretty cool gift.  Tons of food and wine and laughs.  Oh, and the pullout couch they recently got is muuuuch better than the last one. 

Christmas #2: Dad and Stepmother

Given the fact that Allyson and I were leaving very early on Saturday morning, we did our Christmas with Mom on Christmas Eve and Christmas with Dad on the 23rd.  Generally Christmas here consists of a poultry dish, wine and then gifts.  The gifts are special, and not the good kind of special.  Last year I got an IPad charger.  I do not own an IPad.  If I got this gift at the other house, I would believe that clearly an IPad would be the next gift.  Not so much in this house.  Having heard that my brother had gotten Spanx for Men, I was eagerly awaiting the spoils from this Christmas.  Here is what I got this Christmas:
  • An assortment of Olive Oils: Not sure about why I got this.  Allyson was pretty happy about it.  I can barely make cereal, so these clearly won't be used by me.  
  • Clinique Eye Care For Men: I got some sort of anti-wrinkle cream.  Not sure again what the message was there.  
  • A gift certificate for a local restaurant: I was pretty stoked about this actually.  Looking forward to using it.  
  • A charger for multiple devices: So this is pretty cool.  I can charge two cell phones and a Kindle. However, it does say Ameriprise Financial on the front of it.  So I'm guessing this was free.  
I didn't get any Spanx though, so I've got that going for me.

Christmas #3: Allyson's Parents

Was airborne super early in the morning on Christmas Morning to the Sunshine State on a direct dawn flight from JFK to FLL.  It was 80 degrees in Florida which was quite a shock, but I somehow managed to deal with it.  :) We ate well, at our favorite restaurants, Publix, LaSpada's, Larry's Ice Cream.  And they were kind enough to get me presents also.  I got:
  • A Belt: I insist my belt is fine, but Allyson says it's looking a little shabby.  
  • A Dunkin Donuts gift card: God bless these people who understand my need for coffee
  • A T-shirt: Its long-sleeved and I think makes me look a little hip.  
I read the first Game of Thrones book on my Kindle Fire.  Don't do it.  You won't be able to stop.  It's a problem.  I also got to play bingo and eat a lot of amazing food.

All in all, it was a great Christmas.  I am happy for the gifts I got, though I really don't need anything else.  I've got health, love, friends and family.  And apparently some anti-wrinkle cream.  So that's pretty nice.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Miracle

Well, miracle might be a strong term.  But as a born and raised New Yorker, I often have conflicted feelings when I go home.  Both missing the city I knew and being bewildered and feeling distant from the city I encounter now.  But over the past few days I've had some great reminders of why I love the city.  However, my experience on Xmas morning really sealed the deal and made my year.

Due to cost concerns, my girlfriend Allyson and I had elected to take an 8:30 flight from JFK to Fort Lauderdale to hang out with her folks for a few days.  Those in New York, understand that flying out of JFK is only second to Newark when it comes to convenience.  Van Wyck, is Dutch, for traffic.  Little known fact.  So, we had to get a cab at 6:30 on Christmas Morning.  Not as easy as it sounds.

We finally get a cab and immediately the driver asked where we were going and whether we had coffee yet and bagels to take to Florida.  We sadly said we didn't have time.  Then he replied "I got a place, it won't take any more time.  Best bagels in the city." What a NY response.  So we go to H&H Midtown and he waits in the taxi.  Lest you think we're being gouged, it's a flat $45 to JFK from anywhere in Manhattan. I loved when he said, sometimes they fill the coffee up all the way, so take a few sips to make sure you don't spill.  And then he asked if we needed more napkins.  The grin on my butter covered chin was monstrous.

So he explains he's been driving a cab for 42 years and just retired down to Puerto Rico, but he had "anxiety" and couldn't take it so he came back 3 weeks ago.  We were his first fare of the day.  I mentioned I used to be a cop, and he said his brother was on the job in the 34 and got 3/4 disability.  We talked about the crooks at Port Authority and we talked about how he bought a taxi medallion at 22 for $9,000 that is now worth over $700,000.

It was the best cab ride I've ever had.  We just talked and he knew everything.  When the cab ride ended, I gave him a 30% tip, because it was Christmas and he deserved it.  Wally gave me a hug and cried as he wished me a Merry Christmas.  I really hope I can get into his cab again.

Wally, don't retire again.  Or retire here.  New York needs you so that it can stay the New York that I know and love.

Merry Christmas Everybody.