Christmas 2018

When our kids were little, and the entire family lived on Long Island between Bayside and Huntington, Christmases were a lot easier.  It was totally expected that we would all be together in part or whole on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the only thing we had to worry about was a forecast of snow, and traffic on the Long Island Expressway!  But times change, kids grow up and head out on their own, parents die, people retire and move, and traditions change.  In other words, life happens.  Take our family, and Christmas, 2018.

Shortly after their October wedding, Kenny and Chris started their Liberty of the Seas contract with 2 1/2 months of rehearsals in Miami.  They had about 10 days off from rehearsals for Christmas/New Year, and they spent part of that time with us in Ocean City, so they were the kids we shared our actual Christmas with this year, and we tried to include just about every D’Elia Family Christmas tradition we could.  One set of kids done!  

This past weekend, it was time to share our second Christmas up in New York with Krissi and Mike. Susie and I haven’t been back to Long Island since mid-September, so it’s been close to 4 months since we’ve had the joy of Long Island traffic, but we made our way safely to Mike and Krissi’s apartment in Astoria. The plan was a low key Christmas, without a lot of the traditions, just enjoying a couple of days together.

In the course of the afternoon, Krissi, with her Mom’s help, put up a picture shelf in their living room, while Mike and I helped with advice and comments on their progress.  Then Mike announced that it was 5 o’clock, and drink time!  The Master Mixer went to their bar, and shook us 4 excellent vodka martinis that just hit the spot!

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Dinner that night was too many yummy appetizers and wood-fired pizzas at Milkflower, and then we returned to their apartment, drank eggnog, and opened Christmas presents while watching a Christmas movie!  As is usual, Kristen Anne didn’t make it to the end of the movie!

The next day we all enjoyed a great trip to the Museum of Moving Image, which is just a couple of blocks away from their apartment, and across the street from the Kaufman Studios.  Among the many exhibits was one dedicated to the late Jim Henson, and all the wonderful work he did during his too short life.  Of course, well known to our family were his Muppets, and older son Billy’s favorites, the characters from Fraggle Rock!

They also had an exhibit on “ancient” computer games, where we saw our first computer, a Commodore 64, and lots of Nintendo games Susie and I remembered from when our adult children, weren’t!  Krissi and Mike enjoyed going back to the last decade and century.

Mom and Dad Ubered home, and while waiting for Krissi and Mike to arrive, commented on what a gorgeous sunset was in progress.

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The kids suggested that we visit their building’s roof (where they will get married in June), and we got some wonderful pictures of the New York skyline.  

Also, thanks to Mike’s long arms, a good selfie!

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Dinner that night, was totally decadent Greek Bowls from Crave, followed by some TV…and another martini!

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We said our good-byes to the kids before bed, because they’d be up and on their way to work long before Mom and Dad crawled out of bed!  Monday we had an Eye Doctor appointment, so we killed some time driving around Jackson Heights, where I grew up and lived till I was 19, before heading out to Whitestone and our Eye Doctor!

We wrapped up the weekend by visiting one of our favorite old Mineola haunts, the St. James! (after Susie had her nails done!) It was great to visit with our bartender friend Dennis and our waitress friend Mo, and experience one of the things we truly miss from our 31 years in Mineola!

We also passed this very Christmasy house on Roslyn Road, just around the corner from where we used to live.

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By the way, back when Billy was a little kid, we had church friends that lived in that house, and one morning, Susie delivered our friend’s baby in her bathroom on the second floor.  The house didn’t look like this back then!

Listen to the story of Susie delivering our friend’s baby…courtesy of WABC Radio

Oh, and remember me mentioning traditions back in the opening paragraphs?  Well, after 2 years of living in North Carolina, our oldest misses some of the traditions he grew up with.  Specifically, Billy told us he missed our Christmas Eve tradition of Spicy Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Baked Clam Stuffed Lobsters, so on January 19th, we are heading down to Raleigh for Christmas 2018, #3!  Even though the presents have already been distributed, and the tree will be gone, he wants a taste of our old traditions to go along with their new Christmas Eve tradition of North Carolina Bar-B-Que.  Sounds good to us!!

Our Big Adventure, Day One

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So, the end of day one on the road finds us in the Econo Lodge in Streetsboro, Ohio! We left the house in Mineola at 8:20 this morning, made a stop in Astoria to drop off our daughter Krissi (she came on Friday night to spend the last weekend with us), and then it was over the Triboro Bridge (or the RFK if you choose to use it’s new name), up the Major Deegan Expressway to the George Washington Bridge, and onto Interstate 80, where we spent the entire day. We drove up to the hotel at about 5:10, so not a bad day of driving at all. We went from New York, to New Jersey, to Pennsylvania, and now Ohio. Four states in day one and we drove a total of 451 miles and are are still on our first tank of gas!

The weather was sunny when we left Long Island this morning, and there were occasional sprinkles all through New Jersey, but when we got to Pennsylvania, boy did it start raining! We stopped at a rest area to use the bathroom, and took a shower at the same time. I felt bad because Susie was driving through a lot of it, and on a couple of occasions, it was almost like a switch was flipped as we went from showers to torrential rain in the blink of an eye! Not fun to drive through! Then we came upon an accident in one of the more mountainous regions of Pennsylvania. Some yahoo in a pickup truck was sideways off the road (I say yahoo, because rain or shine, we see folks driving like they are late for their wedding and not giving a damn about safety). There were Police and a wrecker already there, but as we were 3 cars from the accident, they stopped all traffic so that the wrecker could pull the truck back on the road. We sat there for better than 15 minutes…in the rain…such fun!

imageSome highlights of today…First breakfast. We chose to stop at a place we have eaten at more times than we can count, the Landmark Diner just off exit 309 of I-80 in Pennsylvania. This place has a lot of history in our family, and in Susie’s family before there was an us. For years and years, Sue’s Mom and Dad would spend a week at a golf resort in Marshall’s Creek, PA called Mountain Manor. Over the years, they made good friends who also vacationed there during the same week and who lived near them on Long Island. The Landmark Diner was about 2 hours from Long Island, and they would all rendezvous there on the morning they checked in, and have breakfast. Year after year, more folks would join in the group, and eventually we were part of the group who would have breakfast at the Landmark. The summer of 1983, we took a very young Billy there and Frank’s folks even joined the group! When Kenny and Krissi joined our family, we would still head up to that area and always stop there, Turn the clock ahead a few years to when Billy was going to Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. We discovered the best way to get there was to head out Route 80 to Pennsylvania and then go north back into New York State, and yes, then too we would pull off 80 as soon as we crossed the Delaware Water Gap Bridge and have breakfast. Susie thinks that the last time we were there was about 4 or 5 years ago, and we were thrilled to find this morning that it was just as good as we remember! Susie had Creamed Chipped Beef over toast (probably the last time we see that on a menu) and I had a Pulled Pork Omelette! Oh, and don’t forget the home fries….they are still wonderful! The restaurant is a little bigger, the counter is gone (where you could watch them cook the food) and the bathrooms are no longer behind the building, but enough is the same to still make it a special stop off!

Then we were back onto Interstate 80 West heading towards our adventure! At mile marker 111(FYI..at the NJ/Penn border on 80 you are at mile marker 310 and at the Penn/Ohio border you are at mile marker 0) we came across an interesting sign. It said, “You are now at the highest point on Route 80 east of the Mississippi – Elevation 2,250 Feet”. Impressive for Pennsylvania, but not where we are going. Forget the Rocky Mountains or even Pikes Peak, when we are at Mount Rushmore this Friday we will be at 4000 + feet already! Start storing oxygen now!!

So dinner tonight was at Ruby Tuesdays, a place we haven’t been to for years. Even though there is one less than 2 miles from our house in Mineola, we traveled 450+ imagemiles for their salad bar tonight! Then we filled the car up with gas (Sheetz Gas…I kid you not) at $1.95 a gallon, headed back to the hotel and are relaxing with some vodka on the rocks (in our travel plastic cups!)! Tomorrow we hope to cover just under 500 miles and stop near Janesville, Wisconsin…a place we’ve visited before when Kenny was performing at the Armory Theater there.

imageOh, The Big Adventure tip of the day has to do with an App that my cousins, Jeanne and Walt Pratt shared with us called iExit. It cost me 99 cents at the iTunes store, and Jeanne and Walt said it was useful finding what kinds of food, gas, hotels, etc. are at every exit on the interstates. In addition, it gives you the latest prices for gas at the various stations so you always know what you are getting into. When we started trying it out today, Susie started talking about a little hand held digital gadget we had way back in the 90s. After you told it what road you were on, what mile marker you were near, and what direction you were heading, it would tell you how close the next rest stop was and what services they had there. She said it’s too bad they don’t make an App for that. Well, I hit a couple of buttons on iExit and discovered it will also search for rest areas! It was perfect, and we made use of it several times today looking for places to switch drivers. Thanks Jeanne and Walt…welcome along!

On the Road Again…….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvwojnLeMH4