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“Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal. And a happy New Year.”

10 simple words that ignited a longing for a new destination. Ever since I was little, I admired Macaulay Culkin’s lonesome trip to the Big Apple and promised myself that I would one day experience the luxuries of the same city during the holiday season. When that moment finally came, it did not disappoint.

The two-hour plane ride felt like two days before my mom and I touched down at LaGuardia Airport. I stuffed my coat pockets with attraction brochures and stepped outside to wait for our cab. My southern humidity accustomed skin reveled in the crisp, cold air of the city. The stagnant traffic was the least of my worries as I admired every light and building. By the time we reached our hotel, all I wished was to return to the excitement outside. We changed clothes and headed back out to explore downtown Manhattan. Street dancers on Broadway, the music and food from the Hard Rock Café, and the smiling faces of the skaters on the Rockefeller ice rink replayed in my mind as I waited in line at Radio City Music Hall. That night, I fell asleep to sparkly dressed Rockette dancers pirouetting and sashaying through my dreams.

Deciding what to visit first the next day was like a kid choosing his first item from a candy shop. I could’ve stayed at the top of the red double-decker bus circling through Union Square all day, had we not come across the stop for the World Trade Center. I wish we had the time to read every name written on the walls surrounding the 9/11 Memorial, however a different monument was beckoning for my arrival. No photo could resemble the true beauty (and size) of Lady Liberty herself. However, the statues didn’t stop there, as we ended the night with wax celebrities at Madame Tussauds.

Although the weekend ended entirely too quickly, it was an endeavor that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. The experience strengthened the bond between my mother and I and there was hardly a time when a smile wasn’t stretched across my face. Now I completely understand why Kevin wasn’t too upset when he landed in New York City.