When our kids were little we used to take them, in the freezing Manhattan November, to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. For the twenty years we lived in New York, from Josh in a carrier on Rick's back, to Josh on his shoulders and Dan in a Snugli, to the two boys worming their way past the grown-ups to stand in the front of the crowd at 75th and Broadway, to the years we went to our friends' house overlooking Central Park West on Thanksgiving eve and watched them blow up the balloons -- all the years of Columbus Avenue cocoa and popcorn, we were there. When they got older, the boys went together without us; the two of them joining the crowds (the TODAY SHOW just told me that this year there are 3.5 million people along the parade route) with the finesse of New York kids. I cherish those memories; I know they liked it but I don't think as much as I loved watching them respond to the balloons and the music and the colors and the crowds.
If I weren't in San Francisco without all our albums I'd scan a photo of the kids waving from the top of a newspaper vending machine, or on their dad's shoulders, or looking up at the balloons with such magical wonder that I can't describe it. But we're here and no such photos inhabit my laptop, so I leave it to your imagination.
We left Manhattan for LA in 1992 and I haven't been to a Thanksgiving parade since. I don't even recognize all the balloons. Central Park West belongs to other parents and kids now; nobody who's only seen it on TV can imagine the excitement, the smells, the noise, the freeeeezing cold and thrill of watching their kids wave to Big Bird and Bob IN PERSON!!!! I'll always have a deep affection for Macy's and the gift of that annual celebration of family, joy and, yes, thanks. Nobody can give a gift better than the gift of memories and they certainly have done that. Every single year.