On and Off The Mountain Stephanie Grubert
The Mountaintop Eagle staff

finished our January 3 edition December 29, 2017 three days before New Years on January 1, 2018. We were in the depths of frigid single digit nighttime weather, which is pretty much from sundown to sunrise. Our resident weatherman Tom Clark was pressed into service to offer up a week range comment. Tom Clark said, “The current cold wave could last into the coming weekend making for one of our longest and most intense cold waves in many years.” That was as we went to print and he was predicting 10 days out.

I bought my first new warm coat in 15 years this season. We have enjoyed some mild winters in that span, but I wanted to have protection for the possible frigid November / December and I was prepared.

Christmas in New York City, from Rockefeller Center and 5th Avenue in Manhattan to Prospect Park in Brooklyn requires dressing for the day and I was ready.

Our family Christmas holiday was great fun. Big kids little gifts and little kids big gifts. Everybody got his or her wish lists fulfilled.

I did not have a wish list and I got some surprises. The most unusual was a Unicorn shower cap, which I tried to give to my Unicorn loving granddaughter Maggie, but she would have none of it. Maggie doesn’t use shower caps.

Lara gave me colorful cotton socks, always good for walking, and a Seattle tote holding artistic kitchen towels featuring national parks, happy hour, and Christmas in the City themes purchased in Brooklyn. I enjoy refreshing my kitchen regularly.

Charlie gave me some vivid luminous golf balls. He said they were pink, I thought they were closer to orange. Either way I will be able to find them on the fairway or out of bounds.

Amy Grubert sent wireless headphones, a thoughtful gift as I listen to all my books on my walks. She also weighed in with a sparkly black sequin backpack, knowing my love of glitter. Amy likes to make photo memory books. This year it was our National Parks trip and our Denver visit.

Mark Grubert arrived Christmas morning complaining that I had not made a wish list. I gave him a gift card suggestion on the spot and we were both happy in seconds. Electronic gift cards are delivered immediately.

It is not about the gifting, but the time we spend with our families and friends that is the most precious. The Grubert family Christmas had 40 plus gathered at Peggy Waskiewicz’ home in Eastchester, NY for conversation and a delicious meal. The tradition started with our beloved Momma and Poppa Grubert fifty years ago as we all married and established the next generation.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was my Christmas in the City excursion with Lara and Kate Dicus. We took the train to midtown and met Mark Grubert and Liz Rostan at 30 Rockefeller, which is now owned by Comcast. The corporate owners of the iconic historic places changes from time to time.

I was very impressed with the traffic control and security around New York City’s most visited holiday destination. The 70 foot spruce tree came this year from the State College, PA area and it is easy to see it close up from the backside next to 30 Rock. The view from Fifth Avenue down the promenade overlooking the ice skating rink is classic, but seeing the area from any side is a winner.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

We stopped in to take a walk through St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which completed a $200 million restoration in July 2016 that included cleaning and re-cutting stones on the building’s spires that extend from the top of the entrance on the building’s facade. The spires now gleam as they first did when they were finished in 1888. Cleaned and re-cut stones have been returned to their original glory. The cathedral’s nearly 10,000-pound front doors and the inside ceilings, which were worn and darkened after years of wear and tear were restored. The interior masonry and stained glass windows were cleaned.

I have visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral many times since I first moved to New York in 1964 to study at Fordham University in the Bronx. According to St. Patrick’s Cathedral website, the 130 year old cathedral “is important not because of its grandeur but because of the message she seeks to share: the eternal truth and love that is inherent to the Gospel. The Cathedral is a reminder, right in the middle of a city known for power, money, and prestige, that the beauty, truth, and goodness flowing from God is what truly endures.”

Bryant Park Back on Fifth Avenue we walked

down to the New York Public Library and stopped by Bryant Park behind the beautiful historic library building for a look at the seasonal shops and to view the skaters in the large rink enjoying the afternoon. I had spotted an unusual dark brick building with gold accents, as we were walking down Fifth Avenue and ventured out to see it. It was the he American Radiator Building, a landmark skyscraper located at 40 West 40th Street, built in 1924 for the American Radiator Company. It looks like an ancient castle or the backdrop for a fantasy movie. Now it houses the Bryant Park Hotel and a division of the City College of New York. The architecture in New York City is always a surprise.

Grand Central Station New York’s train stations are

all about travel, but Grand Central doesn’t just help you reach your destination. It is a destination. 700,000 people traverse Grand Central Station per day. Some travel, others come to view its grandeur and others stop to shop its 65 stores. The Apple Store in Grand Central is one of my favorites and we stopped by to experience the new iPhones and to recharge our own. There were carolers serenading on the grand concourse and lots of hustle and bustle.

Christmas Eve Mass We caught our train back

to Brooklyn, where we would participate in Christmas Eve Mass at St. Augustine’s Church on 6th Avenue in Park Slope. Kate and Maggie Dicus were chosen by Sister Ellen to bring up the Baby Jesus to the crèche as part of the liturgy, a job that Patrick Dicus had done in the past. St. Augustine’s has a family friendly ambience.

The mass was in Latin, an experience I had not had in many years, although I grew up with the Latin Rite in the 1950’s and 60’s, which had been in use since 1570 in Catholic Churches. The vernacular mass, said in the language of any country saying Mass, was introduced in Irish churches in 1965, a recommendation of the Second Vatican Council. I enjoyed my Latin classes in high school, but I am very happy to pray Mass in English.

Happy New Year January can be a month to renew,

refresh, and plan for the New Year. Some of us will embark on new health and social initiatives: walk regularly, eat sensibly, read a book, purge the closets, call a friend, enjoy a new hobby, plan a spring garden, look forward to the change of seasons. I will be doing all of those things and more. We have only so many days on this earth. Each one is important. HAPPY NEW YEAR!