My wife and I love Christmas in New York. She's Jewish and never had a proper Christmas until gentile me came along. I grew up Catholic and left the church in my early 20s, but the holiday still holds me tight. I cherish the childhood memories: the joy in the air, the trees aglow with lights, midnight Mass, the choir singing "hail to the newborn king," lifting me out of myself and taking me to another place.
So when I say "our best Christmas ever," I'm going deep (especially for me). Come along and see why.
Christmas Day 2012, our older son Jason was in from California. Joining us was our younger son Daniel from Brooklyn and his toddler son Ari, a year and four months, our first grandchild. We live just across the street from Central Park. When the kids suggested we take a stroll in the park, we quickly agreed.
Where we live, you enter the park at Boys' Gate and West 100th Street. There's a sidewalk leading into the park, and the five of us started off. Not far in, if you hang a left, there are three benches. We'd just started walking, so I was surprised when our older son said we should turn left; okay, sure.
And there, on the upper slat of the middle bench, was a mounted silver plaque with black lettering. There were three lines, unpunctuated. This is what they said:
To Gerry and Gloria Scorse
Have a great morning walk
Love Jason and Dan
Our sons knew, of course, that we regularly walk in Central Park, five days on and one off. We're among the early birds, emphasis on the plural; you'd be surprised how many people are out by 6 or 6:15, putting in the miles.
Now, starting out and coming home, we have the extra pleasure of seeing the surprise that gave us our best Christmas ever.