Friday, December 28, 2012


Family is a curious thing. You don’t get to choose yours; you are just born into it, for better or for worse.  The power of influence that family has over a person is so incredible because it literally shapes that person into who they are.

I had the good fortune of getting to spend my Christmas with my family in New York City, and boy did we have a good time.

TO begin with, they flew from waterloo to Chicago and then from Chicago to New York. Their plane was late leaving from waterloo so when they arrived in Chicago they literally had to sprint from one gate to the next, and they made it with just less than ten minutes to spare! But they made it to New York and arrived to their hotel right on time. It was surreal to see them all, because for 4 months now this city has been my home, and now my family was here to visit it for the first time.

Times Square!
And we hit the ground running! On the first day we visited Grand Central Station, Times Square, and Chinatown, and then that night they all came to see Restoration Comedy at The Flea (the show I have been working on for the past few weeks.) One thing I hadn’t planned for was teaching them how to use the subway, but I had my Dad download an app to his iPhone called Hopstop, which helped them find their way back to their hotel that night.

The next day we met in Times Square and proceeded to head down to West Village to meet Eugenia (a family friend from the Waterloo Community Theater). That was really fun because we got to experience a part of New York that Wasn’t chocked full of tourists.  After Lunch I had to go work a show, so my family and I parted ways. They stayed down in the west village for a bit more and then went and saw Mary Poppins the Musical, which I hear was fantastic, and I went to go work on ResCom.

Inside the MET Museum of Art

Christmas Eve Day. We spent the morning hanging out and wandering around The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was glorious because we got to spend time just hanging out and talking and catching up, surrounded by History and Art.  Afterwards, we found this little coffee shop near Penn station that was completely deserted on the upper floor, and we made it our home for pretty much the entire afternoon. While Mom and Kristen were shoe shopping, Michael, Dad, and I just hung out and chatted. Then we went and saw The Hobbit at 48fps in IMAX 3D. It was glorious, to say the least. After the movie we all caught up and headed back to Sunnyside for a relaxing evening together. By then everyone was super tired so we just ate the baked goods that Grandma Butler had sent me a few days ago, and fell asleep.

So tired they are sleeping on the subway.
Christmas Day. At 4:30 in the morning we received word from my Grandma Craven that Grandpa Craven had passed away at 1:30am. It was tough news, to say the least. Grandpa was an awesome dude who led an awesome life and created a great family. After serving in the Marines and fighting in the Korean War, he came back to Iowa and started his own Grocery Store/Laundromat. He was a hometown hero and lead that grocery story through many years of success and raised a family all while doing it. He loved camping, boating, television, and Rush Limbaugh. He was a great man and he will be missed.

So that is how we started our Christmas Day, but we pulled together as a family and made the best of the situation. We had a few things planned for the day, but we decided to just take it easy and do whatever we felt like doing. After I gave the family my awesome present to them, we bundled up and headed out. We had lunch at an awesome little place in Chinatown known as Vanessa’s Dumpling House. From there we toured around my neighborhood, which was busy as ever. Then we went up to Rockefeller Plaza to see the Tree. It was packed, to say the least, but we got to see the tree, and it was a cool sight indeed. Then we wandered up to Central Park and proceeded to have the most awesome Carriage Ride ever. The weather was perfect, the sky was clear, and it couldn't have been more magical.

They next two days just flew by. We did lots of fun things, but before you could say Merry Christmas we were carrying the bags to the taxi and saying our goodbyes. It all went by way too fast, and I miss them already.

Lets see….I usually try to end these posts with a moral or a closing thought…. I guess it would be this: Cherish the time you get with your family. While you don’t have much choice in who you get for a family, you do have a choice in how much time you get to love them. And before you know it, they are gone…

I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that

 keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love.

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