By Sister Geraldine Garbarino
Each year my sister Adrian and I traveled to New York to see my brother Dave and his wife Rose. When Adrian was unable to go, I traveled alone. We usually traveled in the summer months, but one year we enjoyed the snow at Christmas time. Loving the cold weather, I was so happy to be able to wear my warm coat and Angora hat, with gloves and scarf to match.
Dave lived about two blocks from the famous Promenade that views the Manhattan skyline beyond the East River. Brooklyn Heights is a neighborhood full of history. The Christmas season we arrived it was covered with snow. Luckily our plane landed safely. Christmas decorations were everywhere, and it was truly a snowy season.
Christmas day began with mass at the large Catholic Church next to my brother’s home. I counted two hundred pots of poinsettias surrounding the altar. It looked like a florist’s. Following the mass, we spent a quiet day with Dave and his wife; being a wonderful cook, she had a special dinner for us.
The following week was filled with activities. One invitation was at a lady friend’s home about a block away; she cooked some of her special pasta for us. Another day we took a taxi over to see our eighty-five year old cousin. There we had another Italian feast with raviolis, and we heard stories of Italy that I had not heard before. Her home was close to Chinatown, one of my favorite places to visit. It gave us some insights as to how the Chinese lived and worked.
One day we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. It had a most elaborate display of the birth of Christ with a surrounding town of Bethlehem. The figures were coming and going throughout the area. It truly was a masterpiece, and it is a museum tradition to display it each year.
We made a trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, and they also had their Christmas decorations. Nearby there were Adrian’s favorite department stores; she loved fashions. We visited Saks Fifth Avenue and I. Magnins, and we went to all the floors viewing the expensive outfits. We even went to the wedding floor where both of us chose which would have been our choice.
My brother lived in an apartment, and at times we stayed there, but later the four Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, who lived in a three story home about two blocks from Dave’s, invited us to stay at their convent. This was more convenient, and we had privacy.
The most fun was walking about five blocks down to Montague Street where all the small stores and cafes were situated. This was one of our favorite pastimes each time we visited New York; we looked for bargains in between.
In Brooklyn Heights the garbage cans are placed in front of the homes near the sidewalks. After Christmas the cans often had beautiful boxes, ribbons and gifts. Adrian, my sister, pretended she did not know me as I collected treasures and goodies from on top of the cans. One treasure was a basket I gave my sister-in-law, Rose, for her clothes pins.
Now New York days are only memories, and writing about them brings the special time spent there back to life.