Until I was in college, the extent of my holiday travel was going from one end of the house to the other. During my college days, I usually flew home rather than make the rather treacherous and guaranteed-to-be snowy drive home. After my husband and I married, we have tried to visit his family on the East Coast about every third Christmas.
In 1999 and 2002, we flew to New Jersey and spent a wonderful week with his family. His parents are divorced so we while we would stay with his mother, we split our time between each parent doing a variety of things, including shopping - New Jersey has the best malls! Other things included going to a Rutgers men's basketball game at the RAC, a New Jersey Devils game, and Christmas Eve services at the beautiful Episcopal church in my husband's hometown.
One of the favorite "touristy" things we did was go into New York City for a day. It was easy to catch the train near my mother-in-law's home to take into the City. We saw the beautiful Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center on both trips and wandered around the beautiful streets to Manhattan looking at the great department store windows. I remember seeing some at Bloomingdale's and going down to Herald's Square to see Macy's. We even went in that store just to ride the wooden escalator.
In 2002, our trip was especially somber as we took a cab down to Ground Zero. The cabbie wanted to drop us off a few blocks before so we walked past City Hall and crossed over to the Episcopal Church where so many of the rescue workers rested during those horrific days following September 11, 2001. The fierce winter winds blew all around us as we walked past the church towards the fenced off areas that once contained the magnificent World Trade Center. The chain link fences were very high and surrounded the entire area. At this point in time it was 15 months after the attacks, so cleanup was still very much going on. The large pieces of construction equipment looked like Tonka trucks as they worked the five or six stories below street level. I remember even seeing one building still with obvious damage from debris that had yet to be repaired. Manhattan is a VERY noisy place with much activity so it was truly amazing to be standing there in near silence. Many people just silently watched as the trucks worked. It was a very overwhelming and somber moment.