November 26, 2006

The Best Thanksgiving Dinner EVER

This Thanksgiving marks the year of the best Thanksgiving Dinner I have ever had in my entire life. That’s a pretty big statement, isn’t it?

Trust me, no slight is meant to my dear Mother, who always prepares a fantastic feast. No. Not at all. But this year, this year will go down as one that I savored every bite, looking at the cook (my brother in law) and saying while in rapture, “THIS IS the BEST Thanksgiving Dinner, I have EVER had. EVER.”

It was Thanksgiving Day. The family and I had just sat through the Macy’s Day Parade, cold, wet, windy, rainy, we had a wonderful time but we were tired and ready to get to family in New Jersey and enjoy a meal with those we love. In a warm dry home, I might add.

We had a 1:05 train reservation to take us to Trenton. Knowing the city would be pandemonium at best when the parade let out, we had left the parade early, changed out of our cold wet clothes, and were seated in the lobby of our hotel by 11:20, awaiting the arrival of a pre-arranged car to pick us up at 11:30 and take us to the train station. We knew getting a cab would have been next to impossible, so the hotel arranged a car to take the five of us and our luggage to Penn Station.

11:30 came and my husband, standing in the cold, wind and rain, in front of the hotel, called the car company to find out the status of our transportation. There was no answer.

At 11:45, the lobby was full of people, everyone was trying to hail a cab, and still, our car had not arrived. My husband called again. He was informed that they would call him back. They did.

At 11:50, upon returning his call, they informed him they had no cars and nobody would be coming and we were on our own. If we had known at 11:00, we’d have already had a cab while people were still at the parade, but as we suspected, our half of the city was in complete mayhem and there was not a cab to be gotten… by anyone.

By Noon I realized we weren’t going to make our train. I called TGOO and my Mom and said, “I think that Thanksgiving Day dinner is going to be grilled cheese sandwiches in the lobby of this hotel.”

Quickly I called Amtrak and changed our reservations to 2:00.

My husband was beyond pissed. He was talking to the concierge who had gotten us this car to begin with, and the suggestion of taking the subway was out of the question with the stairs and the bags and the kids. Not to mention the fact it was cold, rainy and windy. One bag in particular was 50 pounds and we knew the subway had to be packed as well as the thousands and thousands who had attended the parade were all using any method to leave the city.

But the concierge could do nothing for us in obtaining a car.

My husband came to me, despondently, and said, “I think we’re done. There is no way in hell I’m getting us a cab. I’ve been out there a half hour and have seen maybe ONE cab. I’ve walked the streets, nothing. We won’t make the 2:00 either.”

So my husband went outside and for an hour and a half and tried to hail us a cab. Keep in mind, my husband is in NYC frequently for business and he grew up in the area. He knows NYC.

The last half hour he walked a few blocks away from the hotel, in the cold nasty rain, and finally found a cab driver, got in the back and had him drive to the hotel while he called me on my cell and said, “Come outside with the kids and bags NOW.”

I grabbed two bags and the kids and ran outside, putting the kids in the car while he ran in and got the last bag. He loaded the trunk while the cab driver sat in his dry warm cab. As my husband loaded the bags and I got the kids situated, a cab driver in back of us jumped out of his car and started to yell, “Do NOT tip that driver! He is lazy! He sits there in his nice dry car while you load your bags and your family! DO NOT TIP HIM! HE is worth NOTHING!”

Our cab driver was non-plussed. He had his fare. And us? We were just damn happy he let my husband hail him three blocks away and came for us.

Yes. We tipped him.

It took forever to get to Penn Station. The traffic was hellish at best. We finally arrived, and walked in and… had NO CLUE what we were doing. If you don’t travel by rail, it is not intuitively obvious.

I went to information who provided me with information that made me nervous. “Your train doesn’t leave until 2:05, we’ll call for boarding and announce what rail at 1:50”.

Boarding? Where? What Rail? Where were they?

I went back to my family and my husband said, “Fine, then lets get something to eat.” The kids were starving. We grabbed some Nathan’s hot dogs and while my husband and the kids sat, I ate standing up. I told him, I was too nervous. I couldn’t sit. I paced and ate. I just had this horrible feeling we were going to miss our train, in all our ineptitude with the train station.

As we finished lunch I said, “Until I’m sitting around Steve’s table, eating his turkey, his dressing, and his gravy, I will not believe that Thanksgiving Dinner is any more than a Nathan’s hotdog and a couple fries. Until I’m sitting there with your family, I will continue to believe, we just ATE our Thanksgiving Dinner.”

We made our train. My brother in law (married to one of my husband’s sisters) picked us up at the Trenton station. In Trenton we were supposed to get on a New Jersey transit train and take a train closer to their home, but Steve was so horrified by what we went through to get there, he was determined he was bringing us home the rest of the way.

I was very thankful. In particular as the weather sucked wet socks and the changing of the trains was not going to be as seamless as we had thought it would have been.

Steve is a chef. He owns his own restaurant on the shore in South Jersey, a very very successful café. His Thanksgiving Dinners are standard fare, he does nothing fancy, but as I sat to his right on that Thanksgiving Day, I said to him, ““THIS IS the BEST Thanksgiving Dinner, I have EVER had. EVER.”

And I meant every word.

It sure as hell beat grilled cheese sandwiches in the lobby of a hotel and Nathan’s hotdogs in Penn Station.

I savored EVERY damn bite.

Posted by Boudicca at November 26, 2006 09:58 PM | TrackBack

... bloody hell....

Posted by: Eric at November 26, 2006 10:17 PM

Wow! What a story! And we thought driving through Houston was bad. Glad to hear you made it to the dinner. Although I've heard Nathan's hotdogs are pretty good. I'd bet your family will never forget this Thanksgiving.

Posted by: Dash at November 26, 2006 10:42 PM

Welcome back! Awaiting further stories.

Posted by: Denny at November 26, 2006 11:36 PM

Heh, NYC strikes again! *grin* I'm so glad you made it to NJ for your Thanksgiving dinner. Congrats on getting kids, luggage, and yourselves out all together when you aren't used to the city. I'm very impressed.

Posted by: Teresa at November 27, 2006 01:07 AM

After all of that I am grateful you made it to NJ in 5 pieces. :-) Welcome home.

Posted by: pfb at November 27, 2006 07:33 AM

Note to self: Never go to Manhatten with Bou... otherwise, ok. ;-) Glad you made it home safe.

Posted by: vw bug at November 27, 2006 07:43 AM

Fascinating...what else happened?

Posted by: Sgt Hook at November 27, 2006 07:55 AM

You should not have tipped that driver. :)

Welcome back.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at November 27, 2006 08:25 AM

I would not have tipped the driver, in fact, I'd have gotten all my stuff out and went with the other cab!

But, aside from travel woes, I can't wait to hear about how much fun you had!

Posted by: oddybobo at November 27, 2006 09:04 AM

When we were in NYC a couple years ago and were confused about the trains and subway and suck we just asked the commuters who were standing around, they gave us a lot better information then the "information desk" people.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at November 27, 2006 11:47 AM

Wow! You managed to survive NYC and Trenton -- all in one day.

Glad you're back. Youse wuz missed.

Posted by: Jim - PRS at November 27, 2006 05:40 PM

Bottom line: When you need a need a cab...even if you have to load your own stuff.

Posted by: Yabu at November 27, 2006 08:34 PM

Best. Thanksgiving. Story. Ever :-)

I predict it will be told and re-told for 100 years :-)

Posted by: Harvey at November 27, 2006 09:26 PM