It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – Friday

Ooohhhhh, what a fun and productive day we had yesterday!

My friend Holly, who has a Costco membership, was gracious enough to accompany me and my Mom, Mimi, there so that we could buy some things for our Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

The day began at my house at 9:00 am……my mom met me there for a quick bowl of savory oatmeal and a cup-a-joe.  Next we met Holly at her house at 10:00 and the day was officially under way.

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Jingle Bells

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride in….the backseat of a Honda Pilot holding a mug of hot chocolate in your hand, laughing with friends, and peeping at Christmas lights!

Jeff and I had such a fun night with our friends Mark and Lu and their kids last night.  We were invited to their house for a casual dinner before our First Annual Christmas Light Ride.  Lu made three (yes, an overachiever if ever there was one and more energy than anyone I know) kinds of soup and had fixings for sandwiches.  The soups were D’licious!  She made a chick pea soup that you top to taste with fresh cilantro, a warm baked potato and bacon soup that you top to taste with shredded cheese, and a spicy lamb and veggie soup.  All were incredibly warming and homey.  And the sandwich fixings were definitely not your ordinary deli.  There were several kinds of bread including jalapeno cheese bread (mmm mmm mmm), different meats and cheeses, a bevy of condiments and toppings.  What a terrific meal.

And since Jeff and I don’t have kids of our own, it is a nice change of pace to have dinner in a house full of activity and some great sarcastic humor.  It was the funny banter between siblings that you just can’t get anywhere else sprinkled with movie quotes and an obvious love for one another!!!

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It’s a Family Tradition

Yesterday, Jeff and I met my “cousin,” Richie, for a little shopping and lunch in Philadelphia’s Italian Market.  This meeting got me to thinking about family and about traditions.  Richie is considerably younger than I am – in fact I remember he was still in a car seat when I was in my freshman year of college – and for some reason it struck me yesterday that his memory of our family’s traditions is very different from my memory of them.

All this ruminating on traditions got Jeff and I talking about them on the way from central PA to Philly in the morning.  He shared with me what he remembers about holiday traditions throughout his life (who he spent the holidays with, where they held their holiday meals or celebrations, and what kinds of food they had) and I shared with him what I remember about holiday traditions throughout mine.  We talked about how in his family the holiday traditions changed over time (at least during the time he was living with his family, roughly from birth to his early 20s) and how in my family they remained very much the same – at least from my perspective.

Of course, we talked about the subject with Richie over “sangwiches” at Paesano’s in the Italian Market. And he has a completely different perspective on the subject than either Jeff or I.  Not only is he from a different generation; but his parents are divorced and so he has two separate celebrations of each holiday and he is also dating a lovely girl whose family lives in a different state than his family, which adds another layer of holiday travel and tradition.

Don’t miss the pics of marketing or “sangwiches” at Paesano’s.  Click here to view them!

I wonder, since his generation is much more transient than mine (and mine is much more than my parent’s), if we’ve lost traditions over time or just built a new kind……

In my parent’s “day,” holidays were all about family (and, of course, food) and it was fairly easy (compared to today) to get the family together because for the most part the extended family lived relatively close to one another.  I see with people in my age cohort, that holidays are less about family – perhaps due to geographic spread.  And I wonder in the generations younger than mine, if the holiday traditions will be even less about family.

OR, do we have to change the way we define family?

When I was thinking about family this evening – what popped in my head is, “family is the people God gave to you and the people God gave you to.”  That could encompass biological families; but it can also include the families we choose….spouses, friends, etc.

It makes me sad to think that traditions are lost over time; but perhaps they aren’t lost so much as they evolve.  And I wonder, if we could, what we would choose for our traditions….

Strangely enough, I was thumbing through this month’s edition of bon appetit magazine just before I sat down at my computer and began reading an article by Adam Sachs entitled “The Tradition Starts Here.”  The end of the article reads, “The main thing I hope he’ll [author referring to his son] remember is to improve them as he goes.  Our traditions are only as good as we make them.”

So as much as I want to pass down the traditions of my youth to my nieces; I’ll be sure this year to ask them what they want their traditions to be or how they’d like to change/improve them.  AND I am looking forward to starting some new traditions….I’ve written before about how much I enjoyed “visiting” on the holidays as a kid, but that’s gotten more difficult because of geography.  Our extended family is much more spread out now than ever before – so (1) we’ll have to start “visiting” on the actual holidays with friends, and (2) we’ll have to be more intentional to set aside time for “visiting” with family.  It certainly won’t be as spontaneous as I remember, but the important part is that we’ll be together.

Jeff, Me and Richie waiting at a VERY crowded Paesano’s. Waited a LLLOOONNNGGG time, but it was good to catch up and worth the wait!

 

A Beautiful Day for……..

The question of the day for Jeff and I yesterday was, “Do we stay home and clean the house OR do we head to Kings Gap for a hike?”  Considering the holidays are coming up, which means more entertaining than usual, the WHAT WE SHOULD DO was obvious; however it’s been a while since we had a weekend day together and the weather was perfect……so we opted for Kings Gap.

We enjoyed each others’ company on the winding ride to the top of the mountain.  And when we got there we proceeded to the mansion terrace to catch the view during the day….the last time we were there, it was pitch black and the view was non-existent.  We were amazed at how far we could see – not only is the overlook perfect, but the sky was crystal clear!

After a few minutes and several pictures on the terrace, we set off for the garden.  Although this isn’t the best time of year for looking at all the herbs and native PA plants, we still had fun wandering through the space, pointing interesting things out to one another and talking.  A few minutes into our time at Kings Gap, Jeff’s cell phone rang.  It was our friend Ben.  If you’ve been reading lately, you’ll remember he is a landscaper.  We were semi-expecting a call from him – he knew we were thinking about a trip to Kings Gap and had a landscaping job he in the area wanted us to see.  So after a few more minutes in the garden, we got back in the car and descended the mountain…talking about our bucket lists on the way to meet Ben at the local General Store.

Ben took us on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride over hill and dale to the house of a wonderful couple for whom he is doing some absolutely incredible landscape and hardscape work.  We got to see the fruits of Ben’s labor in an ideal setting.  There were all kinds of tiered stone walls, a huge patio, a built-in grill that blends in beautifully with all the hardscape, and a fire pit area with several boulders for seating. Although it’s not completely finished, it is well on the way and gave Jeff and I many ideas for the blank canvas that is our back yard!  While there we also had the undeniable privilege of meeting Gretzky, a sweet, lovable, beautiful golden retriever.  He enjoyed many pats and scratches while we talked and got to know Barb and Bill.  We are so appreciative that they let us interrupt their day to gawk and drool over their backyard!

Next stop – lunch.  Ben suggested a place he likes to go when he’s working in the area and it did not disappoint.  Caffe 101 is in Boiling Springs in a newly remodeled brick building with charming back courtyard seating and a bright, cheery indoor dining area.  You order at the counter and serve yourself drinks.  The staff brings your order to the table.

Ben was glad they had the sandwich he was craving – a barbeque chicken sandwich with apple and cheddar.

 

 

 

He also ordered cream of crab soup that he said was mostly crab meat and which he indicated he will definitely order again. It looked great and was served with a crisp, seeded flatbread.

 

 

 

Jeff ordered a Rachel, which he ate in record time – as usual, I didn’t have a chance to ask for a bite.  But when I asked how it was he said it was very good!

 

 

 

And I ordered a turkey, bacon and avocado sandwich that was very good.  Fortunately for Jeff I couldn’t finish it and he got to try my sandwich.  The food at Caffe 101 was very fresh, nicely presented, and quite tasty.  The only thing that will keep us from going back soon is that it’s a bit out of our way.  But I am sure we will return when we have another day that’s not jam packed!  If for no other reason than to have a cup of coffee, which smelled excellent and to try a dessert.  They had pretty cupcakes that were decorated with generous amounts of icing and other tempting sweet treats!

From Caffe 101 we followed Ben to his house to pick out another tree for our backyard.  We looked at his garden, his inventory of trees, and we heard about some of his plans for next year (or the next several years).  AND, the highlight of the visit was meeting the newest member of the family – his new backhoe.  I can’t wait to have a chance to drive it!

We had a lot of fun spending the day with one another and with Ben.  So I was glad that I had started dinner in the morning – so that I could invite Ben and his lovely wife, Christa – who was travelling for her nephew’s birthday party, to dinner.  They accepted our invitation and we parted ways.  Christa was heading back from her trip, Ben went to work on a job, and Jeff and I  headed for home to finish dinner and at least vacuum the house.

Tune in later for a full description of dinner, a sneak peek into my rookie mistake, and to hear more about cooking, eating and entertaining, which when done with and for friends is soul satisfying!!!!