I spent Thanksgiving morning with my family watching the Macy's parade in Manhattan and then the evening having dinner with my husband and his family. This is the first Thanksgiving in years where I haven't worked. I actually prefer to work but no one took me up on the offer this year when I asked at work if anyone wanted me to cover. With the exception of Halloween, I actually don't mind working holidays because I am greedy for that holiday pay and banking more vacation hours. But Halloween isn't a paid holiday anyway.
I also hadn't seen the parade in person since I was like 10. All I remember is cold and I couldn't see anything because I was tiny. Well, I'm still tiny so not much has changed. And also this year it was basically 19° outside, which I'm told was the coldest it's ever been on Thanksgiving in years. Luckily, my viewing point was NOT outside. One of my sisters works in Manhattan and her office building invites all their employees and families every year to view the parade from their perspective work floors. We were fortunate enough to view from the 14th floor, which was a nice comfortable temperature as well as still a decent view.
I am NOT a morning person so you can imagine my struggle with waking up at 5am to get into the city on time to get into the building before the parade started at 9am. I complained the whole morning. It was SO DAMN EARLY. But I picked up a dozen bagels to numb my pain. My friend picked up donuts as well. In the end, it worked out nicely. We viewed the parade from the comfort of a warm office building and had munchies during the whole procession, while watching hundreds of civilians battle it out in the cold. It was brick out there walking just the one block from the subway stop to the building so I can't imagine how terrible it was for these people watching outside and standing for what was probably hours before it started, all the way til 11:30 when it ended. And it didn't even come down our block until around 9:30. It wouldn't have been worth it for my bitch ass if I had to stand outside North of the Wall like that. I am not a wildling. It's not in my blood.
But watching the parade from up high, in a comfortable setting, despite how tired I was, made me realize not only how fortunate I was, but how far my family has come along since our much more humble days back when every penny was pinched. But again, also reminded me how my dad tried so hard to make us still feel normal by taking us to the parade like every other American family. My mom even learned to cook an entire American Thanksgiving with the church donated food we were given every year during our struggling times.
It's funny because growing up in such a strict household where my parents wouldn't let me do anything "American" like hang out with friends, go to the movies or to the mall, I always felt stifled through their traditional homeland ways when all I wanted to be was normal like my school friends. I just wanted to be allowed to go to sleepovers and birthday parties and talk on the phone with my friends. I looked at my parents as the enemy who were trying to "ruin my life," as every dramatic teenager would say. But looking back, I see now they were actually doing a lot of things to let me be "American," but what they specifically wouldn't let me do, wasn't punishment, but out of love. They were protecting me from a lot. It's really hard to navigate the American waters as immigrants, let alone raise first generation children up in it. I give my parents a lot of credit for all they had to do, raising 5 kids alone in a foreign country, trying to assimilate and learn the culture, as well as struggle to preserve their own culture through their children. I can speak Vietnamese but I don't read it as easily (unless it's food) and I wish I had paid more attention when my mom tried to teach me when I was younger. She even had relatives bring back school workbooks from Vietnam to teach me to read and write, but being a stubborn child, I didn't put any effort into my lessons. I was too bitter about not being allowed to have outside friends. My siblings "were my friends" as she would say. But when you're that young, you want friends outside your home. Of your own choosing. And it's so ironic that years later, I would end up finally wanting to spend time with my siblings and my family. Life is funny that way. I ended up being close to my family anyway after all these years, when I was always trying to push them away in exchange for a more American one.
The parade itself was really nice to view. I enjoyed seeing all the different balloons come down the street, especially the Pikachu. I felt bad for all the people marching though, with how cold it was. Some of the girls in the parade were only in skirts with thin tights. The march itself was very slow and stopped a lot at certain intervals so I can't imagine they stayed very warm marching through. Even a regular temperature fall day is too cold for me to run through sometimes so 19° had to have been brutal. It takes some dedication and commitment to do this every year. God knows my bitch ass wouldn't do it.
Afterwards, we walked down to Rockefeller Center for some quick pics and lunch before departing ways for the rest of the day. The last time my family did this was way back in my early college days, when my baby sister was still an actual baby. I realized in this short amount time together that morning, just like our family cruise earlier this year, I really do enjoy spending time with my whole family, doing the things I used to not really take notice of or care for. Maybe I'm finally growing up after all this time.