Thanksgiving Inflation

last year


So Wednesday we went to see the Balloons blown up for the Thanksgiving day parade over by the Museum of Natural History. This is the second year that we’ve done it and I hope it becomes a family annual tradition. There were clock-management issues and Lennox was carried off and on for the last mile. But let me start at the beginning.

The evening started with a subway ride to the upper west side where we waited for about 20 minutes to get a seat at La Caridad. The food was, as usual, great and I had it in my head that it was Friday and consequently had a hankering for Bacalau. I have anew favorite dish there because they brought me, perhaps as an act of mercy, huevos mesclado con bacalao with red beans and yellow rice. I might stil have to go there tonight, the real Friday night for the Bacalao Guisado, but that is another story. We all had our usual favorites: chuletas fritas, arroz amarillo y frijoles negros, aroz amarillio con camarones, aguacate, platanos maduros, cebollas y ajo (mas ajo por favor). I like to eat at La Caridad because no one ever wants desert or walks away half full.

Because we are moving we had an errand to run before we went to the balloons. We went up to Aunty Odella’s house to see the wood floors that she installed over the linoleum of her Mitchell Lama apartment. This was a beautiful warm fall evening walk up Broadway to 92nd street. I love to walk about Manhattan and see all of the people out. This is one of the reasons, I think, that we wanted to move our family to New York. Walking in Manhattan is a grand parade of the mad rush of humanity that is New York.

The families, couples, singles, and lonelyhearts parade cheek and jowl with servant class, homeless, shopclerks and underclass in an interesting pastiche of humanity found only in major cities with pedestrian cultures. I think my favorite are the lone wolves who parade around on the New Upper West Side, tied to a neighborhood they no longer fit in with or understand by their rent-controlled leases. When we walk around Queens we get a different sort of diversity, but that is for a different entry.

The kids, though seemingly unaware of the parade of humanity in all of its nuances, watch and learn from these excursions. I think it is important to expose them to the life of Manhattan because they can see people living in the complex harmony of this city. When we take them to Paris or Barcelona or London (which I hope we do) they will see much the same thing in different flavors. There is nothing like the grand stroll in a major metropolis.

As we walked after Aunty Odella’s (Auntie Mame in this tale) down Columbus we started to see the exodus of families kids from the inflation. The closer we got the more there were with their faces lit up in amazement, or red with temper tantrums. Restaurants were full of kids being fed whatever was handy, pizza, foccacio at upscale restaurants, sandwiches from delis and Mickey-D’s was packed. This was the opposite sort of mismanagement of kids’ evenings. We went and got them good food first, while others had their kids done and fed them whatever afterwards. The classic kid management issue: too tired or too hungry. You cannot avoid it unless you are a Von Trapp type operation with rigid discipline and absolute obedience. Such families are said to exist in Utah and Alabama where conditions are harsher.

Lennox was staggering with exhaustion but the sight of the Balloons perked her up a little bit. When she saw the first few balloons she was excited, but by the time we got to the giant Ronald McDonald laying prostrate before a 20′ earth in some sort of weird tableau of globalization she was through.


She gamely endured the rest of the balloons, that we all find amazing (the Koons silver weather bunny was my favorite this year) and continued her bleary eyed forced march with as much dignity and good attitude as you can expect out of a kindergärtner who had gone to school 15 hours before.

NYTimes Weatherbunny

In the crowd there were a few characters worth mentioning. There were the two “models” tall women with lots of make-up and perfume who wore super high heels that Chandler drew my attention to. In the crush of we dowdy breeders they seemed particularly out of place. I don’t think that Chandler noticed that the women were probably closer to my age than hers and seemed a bit long in the tooth to be clacking along in designer wear on precarious shoes with war-paint on. Right after they sashayed away from us in the crowd we saw a grandfather there with his kids. He had a full white Santa beard at least 6” long, a strong hard Christmas belly, an infectious white ethnic laugh and a Harley-Davidson-Viet-Nam-Vet type vest. Mason gestured with his mouth to get Chandler to recognize Santa in his civvies and they shared a wry laugh together as Santa snapped a picture of his grandkids with their haggard parents. I think that the trip to the Balloons was Sargent-Major Santa’s idea, but I could be wrong.

I think most important for me was watching the very tall father with bright red hair seethe repeatedly between clenched teeth “There are going to be serious consequences for this. There will be dramatic punishments for this behavior,” and a few other impotent bromides in a Möbius strip to his two tall think red-headed kids who were delighting in the spectacle of Schreck. I have been that tall gangly wannabe ruler of my children. But on thanksgiving eve, I was not. We had a wonderful time.


9 responses to “Thanksgiving Inflation

  1. the flanuers out for a city stroll–i love it! never ceases to amaze me how nyers think nothing of walking 30 blocks. my fragile little feeties quiver in their season-inappropriate shoes at the thought.

    we spent t-giving @ harry’s sister’s house eating turkey, with everyone on the verge of illness. but we played with the Unreliable Narrator’s train set & all was well.

  2. “…bit long in the tooth to be clacking along in designer wear on precarious shoes with war-paint on…”

    So – at what age do us birds put down the warpaints, garb myself in the softer side of Sears and slip into sensible shoes? 🙂

    Sounds like you all had a great day. Me so glad.

    Love your parental style comparisons.

  3. Pingback: Thanksgiving Inflation

  4. Uncle Charlie (to you!)

    Thanks for bringing the big apple to life in all its people, food, and big balloons. I’m hearing a 50’s novelty song about walking in the subway tunnel (Ambrose by Linda Laurie) where the male voice, kind of cartoonish, says “Just keep walking.”

  5. Stafford, always nice to get a view of life from the right coast although if one stood in Canada you’d be on the left coast too. I especially liked the tales of the promenade in worldly cosmopolitan cities. It’s true that there’s nothing quite like walking that walk with people you love whether it’s Manhattan’s 5th Ave., Chicago’s Miracle Mile, the Union Square District in S.F. and even parts of Bangkok (two of which escape me momentarily). All meccas from which people come from far and wide to experience and live in Baudrillard’s world. And once they are there it doesn’t seem quite as real as it does on T.V. what with the rank smell of urine, the ubiquitous panhandlers to whom I’m always polite since but for the grace of god…. I don’t often give those folks money but am always sure to carry a conversation of at least three or four exchanges with them as I expect the human interaction does just as much good, if not more good, than would money. The money would likely lead to greater alienation in most places.

    The one big U.S. promenade that Christina and I have yet to stroll is that of NYC although with my niece and nephew in Ithaca, the next time we head East we’ll be hitting the boroughs and Manhattan. I’ll touch base before any such trip so as to get a “local flavor” and to find out where to go in Manhattan to find people like Christina and I once every other day or so.

    Here’s to hoping your holidays are happy! Ours have been and I’m recovering well from last Wednesday’s trip to the lovely institutional green operating room!

    Once (and future?) East-Bayers

  6. flâ·neur (flä-nûr)
    An aimless idler; a loafer.
    [French, from flâner, to idle about, stroll, of Germanic origin; see pel-2 in Indo-European roots.]

  7. Wonderful, I feel like I was there and wish I had been. Lennox was a great trooper, don’t know how she walked so far. Maybe a stroller next time? You were all great troopers, carried along with the excitement and all the good food. What good parents Chandler, Mason and Lennox lucked out with. Love you all.

  8. So, if I send you the money can you mail a bacalao guisado for Javier and an order of arroz con frijoles, aguacate, cebollas y ajo for me? AHHH!

    What I like about big cities is that there are so many people to see (and be seen by) but you get to be mostly anonymous …. there is room (psychic) for people to be who and what they are and you don’t have to pretend to interact, except when you really have to or want to. I have become increasingly aware of this living in this pretty and charming suburb where we live – first there is the show of congeniality (we are so blessed to live in such a pretty place and so nice because of it)….but if you stand out, here, you are other. Places like this offer a tranquility and ease that you don’t easily find in a big city but not anonymity, not diversity.

  9. Oh how I wish we could all get together and eat again. To stroll Madrid o un paseo o las Ramblas with you guys would be the next best thing too going to the Solano Stroll in, say, 2005 when we were all together.

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