This past Thanksgiving, my sister and her husband offered to host Thanksgiving because they live in the heart of New York City and ever since I was in a choir that was invited to sing at Carnegie Hall in 2005, my parents and I had wanted to experience the Thanksgiving festivities in New York City because the choir came home the day before Thanksgiving. Overall, I had a wonderful time despite how much I have come to hate traveling, especially since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2012. There are tuns of restaurants that offer gluten-free options in New York City. Even so, I always breathe a sigh of relief when we get home from any trip, even New York City, without me getting sick, as Celiac Disease has made me paranoid about the possibility of cross-contamination, or of a mistake or misunderstanding in which something I thought was gluten-free wasn’t. I also just hate being out of my routine and having to depend on others. But I didn’t want to be home alone on Thanksgiving, and I really did want to experience the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that I watch on television every year live, so I sucked it up and went along on the trip.
Like I said, overall I had a wonderful time. The highlight of the trip for me was seeing A Bronx Tale on Broadway. For those of you unfamiliar with this story which was originally a movie, it is a coming-of-age story of an Italian boy living in the Bronx who is enamored by Sonny, the leader of the mob, and this causes conflict with his parents, especially his father who is trying to teach him the value of honesty and hard work. He also falls in love with a girl at school who is black and lives in a different neighborhood. due to racial tension, it was perilous for them to be seen together. The music is similar to Jersey Boys because it is from the same era and general region of the country, and the plot reminded me of West Side Story. I would highly recommend seeing it if you make it to New York City while it is still playing. At the end of the show, the real-life person the story is based on made a surprise appearance, and then as we were leaving the theater, my dad got me in line for a picture with the actor who played the main character. All of our meals were wonderful, especially Thanksgiving dinner which my sister and her husband cooked themselves in their apartment, and the leftovers that followed. My sister also arranged two “touch tours”, one at the Museum of Natural History, and the other at the Metropolitan Museum of art. Both tour guides were wonderful and I had the opportunity to touch things that the general public is not typically allowed to touch which made the museum experience far more enjoyable than it usually is for me. I could never live in New York City as my blood pressure felt elevated there because it is just so noisy, and the impatience of drivers there is incredible. I heard more angry horn blasts in the four days I was in New York City than I would hear in a full year in the quiet suburb where I live. But it is a neat place to visit. Especially in Manhatan, it almost feels more like you are walking through a state fair than down a city sidewalk as there were so many people selling things along the sidewalk, and so many wonderful food smells. On Thanksgiving day, there were even people selling turkey dinners that people could pick up and take back to their apartments.
But the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wasn’t the exciting experience I had been hoping for. I had known for a long time that the television broadcast comes from Herald Square, and Herald Square is the only location from which the singers and broadway casts perform. To see the parade live from Herald Square, you have to have tickets, and you have to have special connections to get these tickets, so I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t be seeing the full-scale performances like I hear on television. My sister entered my name into a lottery for special seating for disabled people on the parade route, but I did not win this lottery. But a relative of my sister’s husband invited us to watch the parade from a law office where she worked right on the parade route. We graciously accepted this invitation and I was excited because we would stay warm and not have to fight the crowds for a spot, and I thought I would be able to hear the noise on the street and thus experience the ambiance of the parade through the window. But what I had forgotten to consider was that buildings in New York City aren’t like the law firm where I work, a small single-story building where you definitely would be able to hear parade noise through the window. In New York, people work in sky-scrapers, and from the high up floor where this person worked, I couldn’t hear a thing from outside. There was a television so I was just going to pretend I was in my livingroom at home and just listen to it on television, but the volume was set really low, and the television was broken so the volume couldn’t be turned up. This relative also brought bagels for everyone, and under normal circumstances, I have come to have no problem with people outside my immediate family eating wonderful-smelling gluten stuff in front of me, but on that day, this rubbed salt in my wounds. While everyone else was having a grand old time admiring the balloons which Mom said are much larger and more spectacular than what they look like on television, and enjoying bagels, I was getting absolutely nothing. Why didn’t I just stay back at the hotel, or better yet, stay home? When my mom saw me sitting alone at a table pouting, she came up to me and whispered, “you need to just try and put on a happy face. These people were extremely generous to invite us and we need to be gracious.” I understood where she was coming from, and I agreed that it was generous of them to include us, but I just couldn’t muster up a happy face. Experiencing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I felt like I was so close, but so far from it. I begged and pleaded with Mom to take me outside, but she didn’t want to impose on these relatives and was afraid that once we went outside, we wouldn’t be allowed back in. But about halfway through the parade, I think everyone sensed I wasn’t going to be able to hang on much longer before bursting into tears, so my mom, the parents of my sister’s husband and I went outside and found a spot on the sidewalk outside the building. After that, my mood improved dramatically as I got to experience the joyful ambiance of the crowd, and shortly after we got outside, a float came by with a choir singing a Christmas carol. My mom said the choir was comprised of Macy’s employees, and they were arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree. We stayed outside for the remainder of the parade. I didn’t have the opportunity to see the relative that invited us to her law firm again, but I apologized for my behavior to the parents of my sister’s husband. They were extremely kind to me and understood where I was coming from, but if this relative happens to find this blog, I just want to say again that I am very sorry for my childish behavior that day.
What does this trip have to do with the Restoration, you may be asking? Well, this parade experience came back to mind when John Eldredge talked about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he had been dreaming about for years that ended up being a big disappointment, and even though he fully believed in the Restoration, human nature took hold on that trip and he was feeling pouty just like I was. In a culture where most people either aren’t aware that this life isn’t all there is, or don’t believe in the Restoration, arguing that this is just one interpretation of the Bible, or that the Bible isn’t true at all, it is all too easy for even believers to slip up and place their hopes in earthly things like the chance to see a spectacular parade live, so when the experience doesn’t live up to what we had expected, we are devastated. Eldredge sites bible verses that show we were never meant to place such hope and expectation in Earthly things because in this fallen world, these earthly things will often let us down. Our hope and expectation was meant to be focused on the Restoration. Now that I have read this book and thought about the Restoration in an even deeper way than I had with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I wish I could turn back time and see if I could have put on a happy face during that parade experience, not because I was necessarily enjoying the moment, but because I recognize that this is just a silly earthly parade I was never supposed to place such hope and expectation on. I may be bored now, but someday when all is restored, I will get to fully experience things like parades, and they may be even grander than the Macy’s parade. When I was in high school, a family friend came over to our house to watch the Tournament of Roses parade with us on New Year’s Day. A couple weeks later, she invited me to her house because she wanted me to understand what a float was. She had gone to Goodwill and bought odds and ends, including a toy that had moving parts and made music, and we designed our own float. That was one of the most fun Saturday afternoons ever! Sadly due to health issues, this neighbor is no longer able to do things like this, but at the Restoration when her health is restored and my sight is restored, we could be a dream team, designing a real, awesome float for a real parade!
Unfortunately, I cannot turn back time, but I am going to make a stronger effort to remember the Restoration when faced with situations where I find it very difficult to be a good sport. If I have to go to a museum that doesn’t offer touch tours, I hope I can close my eyes, smile and remember that one day, I will be seeing wonders even greater than what they are seeing behind that glass. I am fully in acceptance of my Celiac Disease at work when someone is always ordering pizza or bringing doughnuts or cupcakes, but I should admit I still feel left out and sad when family members buy a loaf of bread or a gluten dessert and rave about how wonderful it is in front of me. But I hope in the future when this happens, I can smile and remember that one day, I will be able to enjoy such wonderful bread and desserts with them again, and they may taste even better then than now because with sin removed from the world, they won’t be baked with genetically modified ingredients that research has shown to be a culprit of the rise in conditions like Celiac Disease, but with real ingredients as God intended. I recognize that adopting this attitude in the heat of a disappointing event may be easier said than done, and if even John Eldredge who has believed in the Restoration for years relapses into earthly thinking, I am sure I will to. But I am going to make an effort to practice this new way of thinking, and I will definitely keep you updated on how it goes in practice.
I hope nobody reading this entry thinks I am a whiner regarding my current life. I am so blessed. I have a family that loves me, live a comfortable affluent life and have a job that I am at peace with even if it is not my calling. But the bible said in this world, we will have trouble, and we will face disappointment because while God gives us moments of joy and while there is beauty and goodness in this world now, we will never be, and were never meant to be fully happy and fulfilled in this life. But fortunately, this life is not all there is. So no matter what your life circumstance now, try not to succumb to discouragement or hopelessness, but close your eyes and think of the Restoration. If we all did this, maybe we would all find it easier to muster up a happy face, which just might make the world a better place even now.