NORMAN — Editor’s note: The following story was submitted to the Transcript’s annual Christmas story contest.
In the mid-1990s, I was asked to retrain 36 displaced New York City Post Office employees for new positions after a major reorganization. I assembled a team who traveled to New York frequently to mentor the trainees. One of these trips occurred during the 1994 Christmas season. Our protégés worked on different shifts, so we adjusted to their schedules, working a few hours, then taking a few hours off, alternating around the clock. This schedule allowed time to explore the city during off hours.
One afternoon, Tom O’Brian and I shared childhood holiday memories. Tom talked about ice skating on frozen ponds in Appleton, Wis., and I told him about the animated window displays, magical Santa Land and rides on a train suspended from the ceiling at Meier and Frank’s Department Store in Portland, Ore. We decided on the spot to relive these memories in the Big Apple.
Beginning on 5th Avenue, just south of Central Park, we were immediately awed by Bergdorf Goodman’s whimsical window displays featuring couture fashion, antiques and detailed craftsmanship in elaborate fantasy scenes.
Next, we walked down 5th Avenue to Rockefeller Center, entering through a promenade lined with two rows of gigantic, lighted angels blowing elegant, long horns. The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and skating rink beckoned in the distance. We decided to go skating and waited in line 45 minutes for a 30-minute session on the ice. What fun we had gliding around in the frosty air underneath the colored lights on the huge tree and the famous gilded Prometheus statue.
All too soon, time was up and we had to move on to allow others a turn to skate. After cups of hot cocoa, we continued our journey down 5th Avenue past the Lord & Taylor window displays depicting traditional holiday stories.
What next to cap off a wonderful afternoon? A visit to see Santa at Macy’s. There was a separate line for the young of heart, and not so young of age, to experience the magic as we walked through an enchanted forest filled with live elves, trains and animated toys. There were ooh’s and ah’s, smiles and sparkling eyes all around as we passed through this wonderland and ended with a close-up view of Santa through an open window.
Exiting Santa Land, we discovered a puppet show and joined the crowd for a few minutes before heading back to work at the post office. Our team made many friends and shared many experiences during our travels to New York, but this magical holiday afternoon remains a special memory for me.