Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What has Beethoven got to do with Christmas?

Nearly everything from today's checklist is crossed off. Still have to pack before we depart tomorrow, but Casey hasn't packed yet, either, so I don't consider myself behind in that regard. Just even. And I also have to wrap the gifts for my family. It occurred to me in my brilliance that I should just leave them here under our tree, then when Mom and Dad come by to feed the cats, they can take them down to their house, where we'll go on Sunday before we return home. This way, we don't have to lug them out to Pennsylvania only to bring them back to New Jersey.

And there we go. The "Christmas season" is just about over. In some ways, I consider tonight the last night, since Christmas Eve is usually spent at one family's house or another, then sleep, wake, repeat on Christmas Day. I think maybe once in my life did I have to buy a last-minute gift on Christmas Eve. And then there was the one year when, after our traditional Christmas Eve morning exchange with my longtime friend Matt and his family, I convinced Dad to take me to the music store so I could spend the gift certificate Matt gave me right away. I'm pretty sure that's when I bought Van Morrison's Hymns to the Silence (double cassette).

Today's plan was to knock out everything I had to do around the house, then get on the train to spend a few hours taking some last photos of New York at Christmas before meeting Casey after she finished work. Only ... I stood at the train station for 20 minutes before they even made an initial announcement that the scheduled 6:33 Clifton departure was cancelled and that the next train, the 6:48 (which was only about four minutes away at this point) was experiencing delays of "up to 10 to 15 minutes" as a result. I know how that goes -- when one train gets cancelled the next one departs each station just a little bit later because there tends to be more people (sometimes double, as you might expect) waiting to board.

I stood there in the cold watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on my iPod and glancing up at the directional lights down the tracks every minute to see if they'd come on, signaling that the train was about a minute out. They never did, and once I'd reached the title screen of "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown!" (it came, along with "It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown!," as one hour-long purchase in the iTunes Store) I'd had enough. I was cold and starting to get hungry, so I made my way to the car and sat there for about 10 minutes with the fan blowing on high to thaw out my extremities. Instead of heading straight home, I cruised through some of the neighborhoods on my regular running route to look at the lights on the houses, particularly this one, which I'd spotted from an adjacent street on my way to work a few weeks ago and bookmarked in my memory to come back to, since I didn't have time on that rainy night.

It's just as well that the trains were so messed up today (and I didn't even have to go into Penn Station). This way I'm able to enjoy our tree and our own decorations for one more night and I didn't have to risk frostbite in my toes to take a few more holiday photos around here. It may not be the red-and-green Empire State Building as a backdrop for the tree at the Washington Square Park arch, but it's all for the better.

Tomorrow, to Johnstown, from where I'll work on Friday to mind the site for the day. But it's my only on-call day through the break, and I won't have to think about work again until the night of Jan. 4, when I head back to the train station and hope that the 5:04 is on schedule.

No comments: