We also did something brand new: we all saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular! (Well, new to the kiddos and me).
Yes, we woke up before dawn to catch the train in time for our 10 a.m. curtain, which they suggested arriving an hour early for (note to self: no more early-morning activities in the city!). It was a pretty ride in, with all the snow (at least until we hit Harlem, which had a dusting; no snow in Midtown). And I got a pretty picture of the sunrise as we left.
We met Ma and Gong at Radio City Music Hall . . . where we saw the famous camels of the living nativity!! I'd just read in the NYTimes about how the camels are aired in midtown at odd hours and there they were. We even all posed with them. They're dromedaries (not Bactrians). And they only spit defensively.
Then went inside early to explore the beautiful theater, take a photo with a Rockette, and buy programs and popcorn! I'm trying to remember what all we've seen at RCMH. Mama saw the Indigo Girls there, twice, the second time with me. And I will swear I saw an early premiere or something of the movie, The Lion King there (I think there was even a little pre-show). But what else? Riverdance. Lord of the Dance. I'm not sure what else.
Our seats were first row mezzanine, Mama's favorite seats in any theater, which gave us an excellent view of the stage, the flanking pipe organ players, and all the snowflakes overhead.
And then it began.
It's hard to be cynical with that much unbridled enthusiasm--and Santa Claus--on stage. And the Rockettes really are amazing endurance athletes (that's 1500 kicks in 5 five shows a day for three months! Read about it here) with incredible precision skills. Only two of the pieces were a bit showgirl-glamorous or cookie-cutter chic for me, but I really liked the tap dancing to "Twelve Days of Christmas," the Nutcracker Teddy Bears, and, of course, the Tin Soldiers. The kids liked the 3-D and video game bits, which did update it somewhat; both Mama and I were very distracted by the imaginative geography of the cruise around NYC--no one drives north on Fifth! And of course, we liked the living nativity--complete with our new buddies, the camels, and some real live sheep (Mama would have loved to have seen them outside, too). And every time they did those kick lines, as cliche as they are, I was just amazed and impressed.
We met up with Goo afterwards and then headed to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and to take the requisite pictures (if you ever go, don't stand on the benches, people! The guards will yell at you before you take the picture). We also made our traditional stop at the Swiss Teuscher Chocolates, where we over indulged in champagne truffles, marzipan, chocolate-covered orange peels, and other treats.
Skipping the Lego store (for Bud), the Met store (for me), and the AG store a little ways off (for Sis), we did go to the Japanese dessert shop, Minamoto Kitchoan. Goo helped us pick out many tasty and beautifully-wrapped treats, including candied Yuka (citron), Yuka jelly, benihanaringo (bean jelly), sakuramochi (a rice cake flavored with cherry blossom), and kusamochi (a bean-filled rice cake with mugwort-flavored mochi). We ate them when we got home (Bud realizes he likes sushi but not Japanese desserts! And Sis didn't notice there were beans in her favorite, the cherry blossom one--she wouldn't eat the leaf though.) I laughed to think of a compare and contrast between the Teuschers and Minamoto--one flowery baroque and chocolate-covered and cream filled, the other embodying wabi-sabi with simple decor, packaging, and flavors.
Then we went to eat lunch at Sapporo, a Japanese ramen shop off Times Square. Mama took me there years and years ago (also, Dosanko, but it's closed now); it's one of the family's standards. We liked the edamame, the potato and egg salad served over lettuce with crispy taro fries and creamy dressing. The kids inhaled their gyoza and ramen; Mama her spicy curried chicken.
It seems short, but we called it a day then. I'm usually good for about 6 hours, which is about what we did, plus train time. We did make a quick stop at the New York Transit Museum shop in GCT, where we saw a mini train layout of the city. It reminded me of our old favorite Christmastime site, the train at Citigroup Center, which is no longer displayed.
Still, the Radio City Spectacular was just that and we had a great day!