The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: It's one of those New Yorky things that I've actually experienced before--on a technicality. (The technicality being that I was two or three or so, along for the ride in a pack on a my dad's back and was so hysterically terrified of the gigantic balloons that no one had a good time.) That said, it's also been on my list since even before we moved here. I used to say to Trevor, "Some year we're going to New York for Thanksgiving and we're going to see the parade and look in all the shop windows and just be part of the excitement!"
Would you like to know what we did for Thanksgiving? Well, we're in New York and so we went to see the parade and looked in all the shop windows and we were just part of the excitement!
In order to avoid a recreation of my first trip to the parade, we decided to be as casual about it as possible. I felt "New York Sarah" gearing up for the excursion--New York Sarah doesn't mind throwing some elbows and grits her teeth while she weaves through the masses. But it wasn't like that at all. We bundled up. We strolled to the train. We grabbed a coffee. We rode the train--with a seat and all!--right to Columbus Circle and emerged just as Ronald McDonald floated over our heads. From there we head downtown, chasing the parade! There's Hello, Kitty! Spiderman! We gazed in awe at Carnegie Hall and peeked into the windows of hotels and fancy stores, all lined with white lights and holly and red bows.
By accident, we turned down a side street blocked off from traffic, and we stumbled into the sweetest spot for catching a long stretch of the parade. Those of us taller than 5'3" (ahem) could literally see everything, and even I could see the tops of floats and all the balloons. We marched in place with the booming bass drums and called back to the throngs of cheerleaders chanting on their way by. That's when the misty drizzle transformed into beautiful, fat snowflakes fluttering atop the scene and sticking to our hats. I stopped and looked up, taking in the 360 view, and I texted my mom, "I can't believe I'm actually here." It was everything I had ever imagined it would be.
I think as I feel some of the novelty of living here wear off, I start to entertain the notion that New York isn't what it's cracked up to be. I listen to its long-time residents, tired of the struggle. I weigh whether or not fighting a crowd is worth the chance to experience something in person. But on Thanksgiving Day, the city didn't feel tired or bitter or mean. The crowds were not cruel or overwhelming. The whole place was vibrant, cheering, energized! It felt like the center of everything! It felt like just where I'd hoped to one day be, like standing on the edge again, waving in holiday cheer and magic.
When we felt it was time to go, Trevor scooped up the girls and I trotted behind them. We walked under the golden awnings of old buildings and the music faded behind us. That energy followed us all the way home, where it felt so good to have a cozy spot in the middle of this grand, adventurous dream-come-true. This Thanksgiving, I felt so very, very thankful.