Today, I’m going to take a few steps back from Christmas and revisit the end of November. That’s a big time of year for us because right after Harlow’s birthday comes Thanksgiving, and then a way lesser known holiday called “my birthday.” What happens when I have a lot of stuff going on is that I have a lot less time to write about it, and then by the time I have time to write about it, the world has moved on.

I don’t care. I’m writing about it anyway.

This year on Thanksgiving, we had the great fortune of being given VIP seats for the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade. It was through a partnership with Kinder (yes the chocolate with the eggs), but this is not a sponsored post. Increasingly, I’ve noticed that so many things in my life involve brand activations that it becomes impossible to write about anything happening without them.

I’m not complaining. Just recognizing it as a very specific modern day problem.

Anyway, it was FREEZING at the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade, so in addition to awesome seats, Kinder also supplied us with hot chocolate, coffee, blankets, gloves, hats and most importantly— hand and boot warmers. Those went like hot cakes. Even with the extra gear though, we were still frozen solid and Mazzy, who was just getting over a cold, was pretty miserable.

I should add that to claim your VIP seats, you have to get to the Thanksgiving Day Parade two hours early. Walking with kids in the cold is hard enough, but sitting still with kids in the cold for two hours before anything happens? That’s pretty torturous. I didn’t even try to make them smile for a photo. This is the only family shot we got at the parade that day:

That’s Mazzy’s fur hood in front of me, Harlow is the bundle on my lap and Mike is that sliver of a blue hood sticking out behind me. Once the parade started, I swear everyone was happy. But, not like, “yes, mom, let’s take some photos” happy, if you know what I mean.

If you watched my Instagram story about the parade, you may have wondered why Mazzy and Mike suddenly disappeared and everything was all about Harlow. That would be because, midway through, Mazzy was shivering so badly, Mike decided to take her somewhere indoors. Nothing tests the warmth of your child’s coat than standing in 17 degree weather at a parade for four hours.

VERDICT: Mazzy needs a new coat.

Unfortunately, the VIP seats are next to Central Park, so Mike and Mazzy would have to cross the street to find shelter. That proved impossible because, as you know, there was a nationally televised parade on that street and everything was blocked off. They walked South, hoping for a crossway, but found none. So, they still ended up standing outside freezing and watching the parade, just several blocks down from us. And just so you really understand the level of cold, most floats, which usually have people dancing around on them, were totally empty. They didn’t even make the parade participants stand out there!

Still, the balloons and the marching bands are really what everyone is there to see and those did not disappoint.

The celebrities also braved the cold and we had an up close view of people like John Legend, Diana Ross and the Bare Naked Ladies.

“Bare Naked Ladies?!” Mazzy said, when she saw the sign. “That’s really inappropriate, Mommy.”

When Mazzy and Mike left, Harlow spent a lot of time being my personal parade commentator. Here’s my favorite clip:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ilana Wiles (@mommyshorts) on

Doesn’t she sound like an 80yo Jewish grandma? Seriously. Sometimes I think my Grandma Marion is talking to me from the grave.

When the parade was over, Harlow and I hightailed it out of there and took shelter in a Duane Reade until we were ready to brave the cold again. Mike and Mazzy had already gotten the car and when they picked us up, I’ve never been so happy in my life.

That night, we went to Mike’s cousins’ house for Thanksgiving. If you’ve been following for awhile, you might remember that every year on Thanksgiving, Mike’s family makes everyone perform in a talent show. Mike’s cousins’ kids are all much older and very talented musically, so performance is something that they are used to. Mike and I are considerably less talented and always scramble last minute trying to come up with our act. We actually had them skip us during the talent portion of the evening in recent years, using the excuse that our kids are too little and don’t want to perform.

This year was different. Mike and Mazzy had prepped in advance and surprised everyone by performing the entire “Who’s on First?” skit from Abbott and Costello. They read from a script, but even so, Mike stumbled on a few lines. Mazzy, on the other hand, had impeccable comedic timing and carried the whole thing!

Then it was time for Harlow and I to go up. We had planned on singing, “This Little Light of Mine” together but Harlow got cold feet and made me sing by myself. She stood up there with me though and it was all very sweet. When we got to the last verse, my cousin shouted “in Harlow’s world” and we all sang the new words together. Even though Harlow didn’t sing, it felt like our whole family was wrapping Harlow up in love and support as they sang. It was a beautiful thing.

The next day, I realized that we never went around the table and said what we were thankful for at dinner. So I asked the girls as we were driving out to the house. Harlow said, “I’m thankful for my family and all the food we have.” Good answer.

Mazzy said, “I’m thankful for unicorns.”

“Mazzy. Thanksgiving is really a time for us to appreciate everything we have in life that we should be grateful for. Do you want to try again?” I prodded her.

“Okay. I’m thankful for horses with horns.”

Great. I guess I’m thankful I appreciate a dry sense of humor!

That Saturday, on November 24th, I turned 44. I debated telling people my age this year, but you know what? I think I’m at the age where I’m like, fuck it.

My favorite birthday gifts were:

1) Mike and Harlow delivering me breakfast in bed wearing complimentary pancake t-shirts.

2) Mazzy’s huge homemade card, inspired by her newfound knowledge of how to operate the printer.

It was an interesting array of images and I asked her where she got the photos of us. She said, “Google.”

3) Since we missed Thanksgiving at my mom’s on Thursday, she arrived for lunch with an entire turkey. My mom’s turkey is always my favorite and that was the perfect gift.

4) My mom also brought a Carvel cake which has been my birthday tradition since I was about three. And then after I blew out the candles, Grammy took a family photo. Everyone is smiling! Even Mike! There are no extra kids in there! There is no toilet in the background! And Grammy took a photo that isn’t blurry!

It was a birthday miracle.