Ask ANYONE who grew up in the Parkchester section of the Bronx about Christmas, and they will invariably tell you about how magic it was to see the Oval all decked out for the holiday. Such a simple thing, but oh how we kids looked forward to it. Metropolitan Oval is the geographic center of Parkchester. It didn’t have a playground in it, but it was a place where you met friends to hang out in, or else just had to walk to in order to get from one end of the development to the other. Everyone knew the Oval! It had benches, greenery and fountains. So what made it so special during the holidays?
Here’s what the fountains look like in the warm weather months.
Now, imagine them tucked snug and warm into in little houses. Then, string lights on them, and add some trees. It might look a little like this:
Of course, when I was growing up, we didn’t have those inflatables. But what we did have was Santa! Yes, in a trailer next to the oval, there was Santa, and you could come see him, tell him what you wanted for Christmas, and get your picture taken with him.
Of all the things that I do during the holidays, I simply must must must get a Santa picture with the kids. Heck, I love looking at my pictures when I was a kid and oh so blonde. I want them to have those memories too.
When Soccer Girl was young, she was wicked scared of Santa. She HATED getting anywhere near him, so most of the pictures were of her screaming. When IT Boy came along, he fell right in line and took his place next to Jolly Saint Nick and Girl had no choice but to follow along.
In the past, we’ve gone to our local mall to visit Santa. There was the hippy dippy pontificating Santa, who we got stuck with when the camera broke and we just had to wait there. There was the FUPA Santa – you’re going to have to look that one up…not giving the link here. Then, there was the “oh dear, is Santa really that grabbing that lady’s butt?” year. Every year, I try to go early in the season, and forget. I end up on a really long, slow moving line at the mall, and it just sends both kids over the edge.
This year, we ran into Santa twice without even planning to. First, we attended the Sociable Kidz Fair and there was a Santa who quoted Yiddish.
The fair was in New Rochelle, and when the kiddos decided they were starving, I figured we could go to Fairway in Pelham Manor and eat while shopping for groceries. Who knew that Santa would be there as well? Free if you spent $10, $5 if not. And at a store owned by Jews no less!
So, that’s how I met two Santas and was saved the sensory processing horror of visiting St. Nick at the mall. Pictures came out pretty good if I do say so myself. And bonus! No migraine! Thanks be to Fairway and Sociable Kidz for making my holiday that much easier!