Sankta Lucia (Church of Sweden – New York)

Susanna (bottom right) singing by candlelight at the Lucia celebration
Susanna (bottom right) singing by candlelight at the Lucia celebration

Maybe the third time is the charm. Or maybe we just planned it better this year (or maybe we actually planned it this year). Yesterday was the third time we have attended a Lucia concert. Two years ago we traveled to New York to watch the show. Last year we chose a closer venue, watching a show put on in a church in Hartford.

This year, Susanna joined the choir. I rearranged the schedule with the boys, and we all made the trip down to the city yesterday. We planned this one differently. It wasn’t just a quick trip down to watch the concert, it was a full weekend adventure. And we all had a great time. A little planning goes a long way…

The boys arrived home yesterday morning and we turned around and drove to the Embassy Suites in Secaucus, NJ. We drove into the snow storm heading up the coast, driving as fast as could safely be done to beat the worst of the storm. We arrived at the hotel around noon, and were able to check in early. Susanna didn’t wait for us to check in. She had to be at the church at 1pm, and we weren’t sure how long the bus/subway journey would take. The bus stop was right across the street from the hotel (take the #320 bus from Harmony to Port Authority in NYC).

The boys and I checked in, parked the car, and dragged the bags up to our fifth floor room. Will and Ben had agreed that Ben would get the floor (not the ground as Will put in his blog), and Will got the sofa-bed. The next time they will reverse the sleeping arrangements. Neither wanted to share a bed with the other. There was no fighting about it; they had arranged it between them without me having to solve the problem. At least Ben got the sofa cushions to sleep on. And he slept without a problem until about 5:30 in the morning. But, I am getting ahead of myself…

After checking in, we headed out into the blizzard to find food. We started walking to McDonald’s which was only a couple of blocks away (according to Google). We walked right by an Outback Steakhouse. We walked another half a block and decided it was too cold to walk to McDonald’s. So lunch was at Outback.

Then it was back to the hotel to get a short swim in before we had to head to the city. The boys loved the hotel. An indoor swimming pool and hot tub, happy hour, and free breakfast are a perfect combination. The pool was bathtub warm. The hot tub was hot.

We took the #320 bus through the Lincoln Tunnel and to the city. It was a short enough ride that the boys were happy to look out the window.  Not like the trips when we take the train into the city from New Haven. They can’t even make it past East Haven without begging to turn on the electronics.

From Port Authority we could either take a cab, the subway, or walk the 26 blocks to the church. Ben voted for a cab. Will for the subway. Eventually we decided to walk. Okay, I decided we should walk. It was a long walk in the snow. And cold. I think maybe the subway would have been a good call. But the boys had fun pretending that giant monsters were climbing the buildings. We did stop and get hot chocolate to warm up. The boys’ shoes were wet and cold by the time we got to the church; we were early enough to get good seats. Ben promptly removed his wet shoes and socks when we sat down. I know, it was inside the church, not the best place to take your shoes and socks off.  I made him put his socks back on and put a hat on until he warmed his feet up. He said that his head wasn’t cold….

Having Susanna in the choir made the concert much more interesting for the boys. Surprisingly, Will was able to sit still better than Ben. Sometimes things are backwards. The show was wonderful. The music was beautiful, though I didn’t understand any of the elvish words. Or were they singing in Swedish?

After the concert we decided to take the subway back to the bus terminal. According to Will, it saved us 20 minutes. I think it was closer to 10 minutes. But either way, it was a lot warmer and drier. Ben had still been pushing for a cab. A quick hop on the bus and we were dropped off in front of our hotel.  We stopped by the lobby for happy hour. Only the cheap beer is free. But it is free. One can only wish for free Sam Adams. The boys got water. However, water is free even outside of happy hour, but I didn’t tell them that. So they still think happy hour is pretty cool.

We braved the snow to head to Chili’s for dinner. I had to convince Will that there was no way in h%** I was going to let him have fried mozzarella sticks at the hotel as his dinner. After dinner we visited the pool a while, and I tried to get the boys to bed before it was too late.  I mostly succeeded. Ben crashed shortly after we got back to our room. Will was out by 9. Susanna made it back by 11; she would have been earlier if she got off at the right bus stop – but that is another story – and not my story to tell.

The next morning the boys woke up at 5:30. Or maybe before, but they didn’t get loud enough to wake me until 5:30.  So, I’m pretty tired tonight. We headed downstairs (not at 5:30, more like 7:30) for free breakfast. Will ate two bowls of fruit loops, two donuts, and some sliced melon. He may have eaten more, but after that amount, who was keeping track? We again went to the pool after breakfast. Who cares about the city, as long as we get a hotel with a pool, the boys could care less where we go, and if they can play on their iPods, they don’t care how long it takes to get there. I’m thinking if you give them wi-fi, iPod charging cables, and the promise of a pool at the end, they would volunteer for the first trip to Mars.

We finished the morning up with Christmas shopping (no surprise, the boys bought each other nearly the same gifts – though independently without one knowing what the other bought) and lunch at the Olive Garden. Traffic was light (well, as light as it gets) on I-95, and we were home by 3:45.

Thanks to Susanna for paying for all the food (except for breakfast). We ate like kings.

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