This past Thanksgiving, my son, mother, stepdad and I headed over to New York to have a family reunion for Thanksgiving. We had to be a bit creative in where we were going to stay because we needed to visit Connecticut, the Bronx and Manhattan within the span of four short days. After much planning and route mapping, we opted for Dobbs Ferry, NY.
Family reunion en Nueva York
I live in LA and my mom and stepdad live in Texas. We moved out of New York around the same time in 2004. Keeping holiday traditions alive has been challenging over the years. No matter how much I kept my Puerto Rican heritage alive in our household, my son didn’t grow up with the full experience of tios, tias, cousins, and abuelos. We’ve visited and there have been many Skype chats and phone conversations, but there’s nothing like savoring a pernil while your uncle cracks jokes about your clothes and life choices. Or your aunt asking about girls and school with a loving look of disapproval on her face. If you’re Latino, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Trust me when I tell you my son was definitely lacking this in his life, and there was no other place to get a dose of that other than my uncle Victor’s house, who recently moved to Connecticut from the Bronx. He also learned that it’s not a Thanksgiving dinner without turkey, pernil and ham, and the profound difference between a sala and a regular living room. Because Boricua.
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Dobbs Ferry. The hotel was kind enough to host my mom and stepdad, which included breakfast (I think that excited my mom more than anything). They were staying a bit longer, and wanted to take in the town after the holiday madness simmered down. My mother actually used to work in Dobbs Ferry as a therapist so this was a big treat for her. To say that the hotel staff was extremely accommodating is an understatement. We all had an amazing stay, and it was the perfect choice for the traveling we needed to do. And I’m not just saying this because it was hosted. It really is a charming, lovely hotel.
The Hilton Garden Inn in Dobbs Ferry is right off the I-87, and is super close to shops, restaurants, and a movie theater. Waterfront Park, Tarrytown Music Hall, Hudson River Museum, and the Ridge Hill Shopping Plaza are within 15 minutes. Manhattan is a 30-minute drive away. They have FREE covered parking (Free parking in New York? Yes!), a local shuttle, free WiFi, and an indoor pool.
The lobby was super cozy and felt like home, as it was already decorated for the holidays. The fireplace was going, the tree was up, and there was a calm and cozy holiday feeling all around.
My son was on LA time, so during my stay I hung out by the fire during the mornings to sip on my coffee while watching the Today Show talk about the Thanksgiving parade, the impending snowstorm that was coming our way and the Time Square holiday prep. It felt good to be in New York!
After Thanksgiving, my son and I spent a lot of time with my cousin in the Bronx, which was about 20 minutes from the hotel. We had so much catching up to do, and it was obvious my son really needed and wanted downtime with family – playing videos, eating food he can’t typically get in LA, watching movies and talking. There was lots and lots of talking. My son is coming into his own, and is trying to figure out his next steps in life, who he is and who he wants to be as a man.
Being away at college has opened up a whole new world for him, which has been both exciting and scary. Hearing and sharing stories about our family gave a him a sense of his roots, and answered a lot of questions about his cultural identity as well as some of the reasoning behind why I have a certain point of view that may differ from many of his friends parents who are from California. It was definitely eye opening for him.
Being a New Yorker in Cali has had its set of challenges for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love where I live, but raising a child in Cali with a New York state of mind has been a bit confusing for my son and equally perplexing to me because my child rearing perspective has not only been inspired by upbringing in NYC but is also seeped in Caribbean culture, which isn’t very prevalent in Los Angeles. But that’s another blog post, which, now that I think of it, should go immediately on my editorial calendar.
Needless to say, this trip was very important on a multitude of levels beyond Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, as the family and I dove deep into conversations, my mother and stepdad were living their best life in Dobbs Ferry, zipping up and down from Manhattan to upstate to see the snow, eat dinners and explore. They cannot be stopped. They headed down every morning for their on-the-house breakfast (because seriously, my mom was not going to miss it!) and then took off. If they got back early enough for dinner, they would stop by the on-site restaurant, Buddha Asian Bistro for sushi. While they wined and dined, we flew through three pretty gnarly snowstorms back to LA…but I’m not bitter at all.
Well, maybe a little.
In between turbulent jolts, my son looked over at me and said “This trip to NYC was so much more than I thought it would be. It was a trip I didn’t realize that I really needed.”
And with that, I conclude this post. Thank you to Hilton Garden Inn Dobbs Ferry for making our stay so comfortable. It was a great place to rest our heads while we connected with loved ones, our culture (and sub-culture), our city and all that New York has to offer.