NEW YORK – You likely agree, if you have reached that station in life, that grandchildren are not overrated. While, I didn’t originate that assessment—it came from a pretty friend Suzanne Chastain—I succumb passionately to that notion.
You glory in their birth, you swoon to their charming and innocent comments, laced with poignant, if fractured wisdom; their refrigerator art, their candor, their warm hugs and heart touching overtures of affection.
The late television personality Art Linkletter delighted audiences for years with his show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Do they ever without any censors or filters!
Although our two youngest grandchildren, Sophie and Penny, have the present-day addiction to their iPhones, there is also an enthusiastic appreciation for books which brings about a recurring gratefulness. They seem to have engaging curiosities. (It is difficult to type while your thumbs are up.)
They recently were the beneficiary of an early Christmas gift of a trip to New York City. They made a list of sites they wanted to see in Manhattan, the usual for any tourist, any age—Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue to see the window displays, but the attraction that brought about the highest regard from them was the World Trade Center Museum. Even in their pre-teen state, they seem to have an historical bent which brings about appreciative Hallelujah’s from their doting grandparents.
We rode through the edge of Central Park, disembarked our Uber chariot at Times Square for a photo op, enjoyed a very good meal at a very good restaurant, Toscano’s, on East 48th Street, literally a hop, skip and a jump from the Marriott East Side, our delightful holiday home. Toscano’s doesn’t carry a signature reputation but is the equal of many which do.
It is cozy, a few feet below street level with white table cloths and an ambience conducive to good feelings, good eating and sprightly conversation with an accommodating acoustical atmosphere — even for kids like Sophie and Penny who especially enjoyed the tasty bread and pasta sauce.
At their precocious ages, they are living up to their gender heritage. The first thing on their mind after checking into their hotel room was to hit the streets and go shopping. With a mother keen on connecting them via Uber app and a grandmother with an indulgent and approving smile and a reservoir of VISA card options, they soon were two of the countless shoppers who come to New York each year to Christmas shop.
With a drizzling rain which segued into intermittent sunshine, accompanied by a winter chill, there were all purpose boots for immediate use, a number of things to ferry home and some on order. A grandmother’s generosity called for shopping fulfillment. Both grandmother and granddaughters got their wishes.
` Dinner at the rebirthed “Tavern-on-the-Green” and braving the cold to see the taping of the Today Show almost within arm’s length of the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller plaza were memorable highlights, but the signature stops on a long weekend in “The City,” were the 9-11 Memorial and taking in the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
The production of this time-honored Christmas story dates back to 1933 and has never become passé. This musical speaks to the hearts of kids and adults. All kids’ eyes are on the performers. All parents’ eyes are on the kids who are exposed to a wholesome story, legendary dancers with unsurpassed synchronizing dance routines and an interspersing of such animals as camels and donkeys on stage. The Rockettes at Radio City at Christmas may just be the “Greatest Show on Earth.” For sure that acclaim would be endorsed by two happy kids with whom I am familiar.
There was a 3-D sleigh ride across Manhattan at the top of the show and a Santa Claus who looked and talked like Santa ought to. Not sure how many times I have seen this remarkable presentation, but it dates back to the early sixties. I give it the highest of marks since it makes you appreciate Santa Claus and the Christmas story, glorying in the coming of the holiday season and seeing kids frolic in the theatre and being subtly reminded by the preachment that there can be peace on earth and that goodwill can be extended to all peoples.
There is no place like New York at Christmas and there is nothing more uplifting for a grandparent than to take their grandkids to New York for the holidays.