For the past five years, my family has decided to skip the materials in exchange for memories at Christmas (last year was Nashville, remember?). Each year’s trip has been special in its own right, and I know we will cherish these memories for years to come. With Jackie’s passing, families growing up, moving off, and tying the knot, it’s hard to get everyone at the same place at the same time, but I am thankful for all the moments we’ve all shared in the past, and looking forward to the Christmases of the future in whatever form they come.

If you follow me on instagram, you are well aware of this by now… but this year we went to NEW YORK CITY! Mom, Dad, Kyle, Monya, Madalynn, and I piled into the Tahoe around 2 am the Sunday before Christmas and headed to the airport. With only two carry-ons each, we navigated through security and arrived safely at LGA around 945 am.

We couldn’t check into our Airbnb in the Lower Eastside until 1, so we got our Subway passes and grabbed breakfast at Burger King. Don’t judge us. We had a ton of baggage and it was a block from our place. It might not have been the ideal Sunday brunch, but it did come with a show! There was a shoe-less man cussing himself out in the mirror. If you have ever seen ‘Drinking Out of Cups‘ it was kind of like that but far more foul.

That night, we headed out to explore Chinatown and Little Italy. It has forever been a bucket list item of mine to purchase a bag from a sketchy person in Chinatown. I don’t know why. I don’t consider myself a fashion guru or a designer dreamer, I just wanted the experience. Turns out it’s easier than I had expected. Matter of fact, they are all over Canal Street practically shoving imitation items in your face. Jewelry, purses, sunglasses, you name it. Except Gucci Flip Flops, which is all Kyle and Monya were after. The bag I ended up with wouldn’t dare fool a true shopper, but it is a decent attempt at looking like a nice bag. And I can check it off my list. So I’m happy. I’ll let you guess the brand. 😉

Another item on the bucket list was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, recreating the opening scene of one of the best movies ever. I told Mom this and she asked me why they served breakfast in a jewelry store. Bless her heart. haha. So here is that reenactment as well as one of Marilyn Monroe in the Subway. Pinterest made me do it.


What better way to bond with family than at the dinner table? Well, it’s a little more awkward when you have to hover over another family while they eat to make sure you get their table afterwards. I still feel bad about that, but Shake Shack was totally worth it! Seriously. The food in New York is life. On the left you can see my Shake Shack ‘Shroom Burger, cheese fries, and peanut butter shake. To the right is this hole in the wall near Central Park called Dig Inn (I think there are actually a few of them) that serves super healthy, heavenly plates. I got chicken, quinoa, brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes. My mouth is still watering. I also had hand rolled pasta in Little Italy, Chinese food three times, and gained at least three pounds, even with the 6ish average miles we walked a day. I heart food.


We did what all good tourists do and spent an afternoon in Times Square. Monya and Madalynn rode the Ferris Wheel in Toys’R’Us. Kyle got some pretty cool time-lapse videos while people watching. We witnessed a proposal that brought me to tears, as all proposals and commercials tend to do. And I met the notorious Naked Cowboy. Since mom wouldn’t take a picture with him I did. And below is the group picture brought to you by Dad’s embarrassing selfie stick and featuring his not-sure-what-I’m-doing selfie face. Love you, Dad. 😉


A tradition we’ve created is to visit the Madame Tussaud’s wax museums when we are near them. I got to sit down with Jimmy and tell him about our trip right before I ran E.T. back home. Due to Jenna Marbles being taken down for a new hairdo, I have to admit that the Las Vegas one remains the best yet. If you are ever near one, go.


Short of those wax figures, I’m the only one interested in art in my family. But Mamma loves me so much that she took me to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). My heart was dancing as we witnessed this-is-real-life pieces by Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Mondrian, Dali, Delaunay, and my favorite: Lichtenstein. Mom was a trooper. I should have recorded her commentary on Picasso. “He’s famous?!?” “I can do THAT!” “He was only famous after he died, right?” It was hysterical. She liked the dog statues at the airport better.


After that, the two of us got lost on the Subway and made our way back to China town for my first taste of Chinatown Dumplings and hot green tea. Then we ran back home in the pouring rain to pick up the crew. That night we were all drenched as we made our way to the 9/11 Memorial.

Of course, I can’t bring this part up without sharing where I was September 11, 2001. You know better than that. I was eleven years old. We were at the beach, and out shopping, and I had no idea why Dad made us all run back to the house to watch the news. Up until that point I had never heard of the World Trade Center. I didn’t realize how horrifying that day really was.

I think I could have stayed in that museum all day and still would have missed something. Passing by the original steel beams at the point of impact, seeing crushed fire trucks, blood-stained shoes, and rubble. Hearing voice mails from loved ones, and seeing wall after wall of pictures of those lost.  It is so beautifully and respectfully put together.  It puts knots in your stomach, tears in your eyes, and a fire in your heart.


Winding down our trip, Christmas Eve was spent on the Staten Island Ferry viewing the beautiful Lady Liberty and a dinner Ralphie Parker would be proud of straight in the middle of Chinatown. (We didn’t have the not-so-headless duck, though there were several hanging in the window.) Then home to pack for a Christmas day spent at a skate park under the Manhattan Bridge and the LGA airport for food, naps, and TSA.


So many memories all piled into a week. I am so blessed that we were able to do this, able to take two others, and able to laugh at all of Mamma’s blonde moments. My family means the world to me and I hope they know just how much I love and appreciate them! It was definitely one for the books, but I must admit, home never looked so good. I always thought I could be a city girl but the suburbs are what I want to come home to. My small-town life, where the only thing slowing traffic is a tractor and the only tea they serve is sweet. Plus I missed my fur babies.

How was your Christmas? Any sweet or funny stories worth retelling? I’d love to hear them! Comment below!