On Saturday we decided to do something fun because why not. After all I’ve been through this year it’s time to experience as much as I can with the kids. And we had an opportunity to experience something very special during the holiday season with our oldest two.
I saw that North Carolina was playing at Madison Square Garden a week before Christmas Eve. I loved the Carolina team that reached the championship last year and almost everyone is back from that team. Last time I saw Carolina basketball play in person was 20 years ago when they played Kansas at MSG and Roy Williams was in his last season with the Jayhawks.
Last time I had been into New York was with Chris right before I got pregnant with Chase. We went to a college basketball tournament at MSG thanks to free tickets from a coworker and then did the whole tree and walk through the city thing.
Seeing the city at Christmas time is always magical but last time we went it was stressful. My mom was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer that summer. We had just started trying for a baby right before her diagnosis and the return of her cancer made the desire for our first child and her first grandchild even more pressing. The day we went to the city 8 years ago, I got a voicemail from my dad that he had to take mom to the hospital. I can’t remember what the exact issue was but it was related to her cancer and was very upsetting.
I called my dad back in a panic asking if he needed us to come back to help or see her. We were going to head back if my dad thought we should but he said there wasn’t anything we could do and mom should be ok, she just needed observation in the hospital.
I felt very guilty for staying at the tournament and spent the whole time worrying about my mom. So while we hit the city and tree for the holiday season, it was full of worry and guilt and not as enjoyable as I hoped. Thankfully mom was ok after that trip to the hospital but I felt like it was the beginning of the end for her final cancer battle.
Flash forward nine years and we have a chance to go watch our favorite college team play and see the tree. It’s a week before Christmas and going to be crazy but we decided to go for it. And I’m so glad we did.
The day started with an amazing basketball game. North Carolina was down most of the game but had a great second half comeback. Armando Bacot, one of my all-time favorite Tarheels, had a huge game to help led the team to a win. Carolina forced overtime when Pete Nance hit a jumper at the buzzer to tie the game. The Tarheels went on to win 89-84 in overtime.
The atmosphere of an in person game is so exciting. The crowd was mostly Carolina fans and frequent Tar-Heels chants broke out throughout the game. It was like a home game for UNC. The music and lights and sounds add to the fun. I even found myself singing with the karaoke cam towards the end of the game along with most of the crowd to Mr. Bright Side, as if we were at The Killers (my favorite band!) concert. And of course the overtime win was the icing on the cake.
Despite already being a long day and tired, we were in New York and I wanted my kids to see the tree and the sights and the sounds of the city. There is truly nothing like New York City especially during the holidays.
So we made the trek to Rockefeller Center and walked among the crowds and blaring taxi horns. It wasn’t too cold and the boys were pretty amazed at the tree. We couldn’t get close but did manage to get a great shot of the four of us with the tree in the background thanks to a very nice stranger who offered to take a pic for us.
Even though we are no longer religious we stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is such a gorgeous building and church. Chris thought it would be nice for the boys to light votives in memory of their Grandma and one for me to remain healthy and cancer free. The boys were very excited to light the votives. I felt a sense of peace during our short visit there then it was time to head back out into the chaos.
The literal push to get onto the train leaving just after 8 that night was insane. It was the most crowded train I’ve ever been on with standing room only on both levels of the double decker train. We initially had to stand but lucked out and got seats for all of us when a family of four got off at the very first stop.
The boys were exhausted and I was too but it was such a wonderful experience and I’m so glad Chris and I were able to share it with our oldest two kids who were old enough to get it and handle the chaos of the city at Christmas time.
After all I have been through this year I’m learning to focus on experiences and spending time with the family. While I missed our youngest three who our sitter watched at home, the memories we made with our oldest two were priceless. I was worried it was going to be too much, too crazy and too tiring but we pushed through it all and had a day I’ll never forget.
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