My favorite sort of Christmas shopping
With no work scheduled, Monday was my day for Christmas shopping. But not just any Christmas shopping. In an on-and-off tradition dating back 15 years I headed into Manhattan for the Union Square holiday bazaar. It’s a collection of well over 100 vendors’ booths, selling all sorts of interesting, often handmade products. A welcome relief from the sterile, corporate mall environment. I’d much rather buy gifts from the artisans who made them than from some mall clerk.
A trip into Manhattan normally would involve a choice between the LIRR, with all the unpleasantness that involves, or trying to find needle-in-a-haystack street parking. But I have a better way. On occasion I’ve worked at one of the stores located in the big shopping center on Northern Boulevard and 48th Street in Long Island City. One thing I learned is that it’s okay to park in the free rooftop parking deck even if you’re not patronizing one of the stores in the center. You won’t get towed. Driving to the shopping center on the Long Island Expressway wasn’t as easy as might be expected, even though it was after the end of morning rush hour. Occasional heavy rain really slowed things down. But I made it, and walked a couple (wet) blocks to the 46th Street station on the R train, which is about a 20-minute direct ride to Union Square.
The holiday bazaar was as fun as always, and even the rain didn’t dampen my spirits (it dampened the rest of me, that’s for sure). I found some nice gifts and had pleasant conversations with the vendors. It’s good to know the backstories behind the things you buy. I was there for about an hour and a half, before I took the R back to 46th Street. Like on the journey in, there was a panhandler in the car. Some things never change.
As I got off the subway I espied an interesting thing: a KFC. No, not Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kennedy Fried Chicken, a knockoff usually found in city neighborhoods too downscale for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was an odd location, as the area around the 46th Street station isn’t bad. Anyway, I took advantage of the opportunity and bought a 10-piece box to bring home. It was no gourmet delight, but it really wasn’t bad, not that much different from the “real” KFC. And no one got poisoned.
Speaking of getting back home, the drive was utterly miserable, with traffic at a crawl much of the way even though evening rush hour hadn’t really started. Maybe it was the rain, maybe the Christmas rush, whatever the case it left me too enervated to go to the gym.
Tuesday, Christmas Eve, was a largely do-nothing day. I had planned to go to the gym in the mid-afternoon, but by the time I got there it had already closed. In any event, I didn’t have much energy or enthusiasm to do much.