Holiday Cheer at the Parking Garage

New Yorkers know the hassle that comes with planning an outing beyond the reach of the transit system. One cold day last year, I trudged to a parking garage on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to pick up a rental car. By the time I got there, hauling multiple heavy bags, I was kind of In No Mood.

The surroundings didn’t help: the garage was underground, dingy, and beyond filthy, with years of grime on the walls and floor. While I waited for the attendant to bring my vehicle, I idly wandered around…and came across a winter wonderland in a deep corner of the garage.

The walls over here were covered over by wallpaper that featured blue sky and cumulus clouds. The unnerving sound of fluorescent lights on the fritz was now masked by the whir of model trains. Turns out the garage attendants had built a trainscape that circled a snow-covered village. This town had everything–snowmen, reindeer, villagers, a menorah, a crêche, a clock in the village square, even an ice rink filled with Santas on skates. Santa circled the whole scene in a helicopter, trailing a banner of holiday wishes. It took up a good eight feet of real estate in this garage, which is substantial in Manhattan.

I was indescribably moved and surprised by this labor of love. May you find holiday cheer in unexpected places this year.