Especially when that tree is illuminated in a little Hallmark town!
What more could we have asked for to make Light Up Night perfect in our little Hallmark Movie town? We had a full moon, crisp temperatures, fall leaves still on the trees and a spectacular turn out, plus Jay and I were armed with alpaca socks, sweaters and accessories so we weren’t feeling the cold. We also had the amazing hot beverages from H. Wonder Coffee and Records, and thank goodness my sense of taste is beginning to come back just a bit, because I could almost taste the gentle flavoring of peppermint that Madison added to my wonderful decaf chai latte with oat milk-she takes care of me, that girl. The organizers tried something new last night. They did a stroll instead of a parade and the tree lighting itself took place at 8 instead of earlier. I thought it was usually at 6, so we got there at about 5:15. There were street vendors and carolers at various locations and at least one HS band, lots of families with little kids and of course Santa, who one little boy of about 4 emphatically announced to me that he was fake. His Dad apologized because there were lots of other kids around and said that HE didn’t tell him that, that the little boy decided on his own. Ahhh Christmas!
There was a reminder that the Nutcracker is coming and I need to get tickets soon. We enjoyed walking around and checking out the store decorations, but the little ones-OK, add me to that list-were anxious for the town to be lit up. The houses in Central Park were still dark as well as the tree, so for that 2 hours, because that was when the event was supposed to begin, we waited and kids and parents got antsy and tired. It was hard to explore the displays and see the insides without the lights. I hesitate to say that the evening wasn’t perfect, but as a participant and not a planner, I had a different view. I wish they had the town and tree lit at 6 or 7 had the carolers there and then people would have stayed longer to look at things, stroll the streets and shop and eat after everything was lit. No one asked my opinion though. I heard many parents lamenting the same thoughts and I wasn’t even trying to keep a child occupied, I was trying to keep Jay busy and distracted. The community dog was out too. As soon as the tree was lit, people ambled on and went home. 8 was the end time and people took it seriously. What IS wonderful about living here is that people show up. The turn out was amazing and kids? We’ve got them. The wonder of kids at during the Christmas season is hard to beat. Just like in a Hallmark Christmas Movie, you know someone just about at every corner, people are friendly and it’s safe. For everyone. Here’s our friend Bethany adding the finishing touches to her gingerbread house display. These are real! Every piece is edible. They aren’t those little ceramic houses. The trees are ice cream cones covered in icing. She is a true artist. Here’s a close up. You HAVE to see the detail of each one in person. They’ll be on display in the window at the Gallery on Gazebo and H. Wonder Coffee and Records through the Christmas Season. Events like this one bring people together “under the sheltering tree.” I saw people that I hadn’t seen forever and I actually remembered names and faces, so if I saw you and you thought I was overly friendly, I was ecstatic to see and remember you. My senses and memory seem to be coming back. Thank God. It’s an amazing feeling. And if I saw you last week and seemed clueless but saw you last night and was like my old self, it’s because things are finally coming back. I feel like Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck when Cher yelled at him, “Snap out of it!” I think I have.
I have to share an amazing Godwink that happened yesterday during the day. I’m in the process of reorganizing my kitchen cabinets and pantry. I have so many cake and baking pans and I rarely if ever bake anymore. Why do I have so many? Oh that’s right, I told myself-when I was actively involved in preparing and helping with our church Lenten lunches, we all baked and donated as many things as we could. I think I’ve told you about my dear friend Blanche Brant? She was like a grandmother to me and so special. Years ago she told me a story of how when she was starting to go through menopause, her doctor told her to lock herself in her bedroom on Friday and not come out until Monday and she would be fine and through the change and it would be over. And she did as he said. And it worked. I was incredulous that that worked but I did not question her about it. She said it did and that was that. Then one day she came in to the Lenten Lunch prep day with a recipe that I’d never seen before for dark chocolate mousse cake with chocolate whipped cream icing. She handed me the recipe. “Julie,” she said, “you need to make this cake. It will become your signature cake, like my carrot cake.” Her carrot cake was the real deal and the first to sell out. She grated her carrots by hand. It was something else. So who was I to argue? After much trial and error and many cake pans, that cake became my signature. I haven’t made it for years. I need to find the recipe.b by
I’m thinking of Blanche, first all week and sharing the menopause story with friends, because I swear, whatever’s been going on with me has ended as quickly as if I’d been locked in a room for the weekend, like she said, and then yesterday about the cake and the pans and I decided to rearrange my cookbooks, when out falls…Back into my cupboard went all of my cake pans. I touched that photo and thanked my dear friend for watching over me. Our loved ones are always with us. I might need to find that other cake recipe too! She’s telling me that everything is fine. I needed that.
What else reminded me of my dear friend last night? So many lovely friends who, but for that first church I attended here and participating in the ladies’ groups, I never would have met. I saw a few of them last night. Like Alice! We grew up literally within miles of each other in Pgh and have memories of shopping at the same old fashioned stores like Grace’s, and would NEVER have met there. But in our Hallmark town, magic happens and we discovered it through prepping the altar for Christmas. Or Arlene, a young mom with two young boys way back when, who worked at the Trib Dem and is now the editor of the Johnstown Magazine. Her boys have moved back to town, and like ours, I think, have decided to stay and make it their homes. I never would have met them, but for church. We saw them last night too, and so many others. My beautiful friend and hairdresser Ivanna was there with her daughter and a group, including my friend Tara. Sorry! I put a hat on and smashed my hair that she’d done earlier in the day. It was nice to see so many friends in one place. And practically all of my hooping buddies! How do you end a nearly perfect light up night in a Hallmark town? With the gingerbread artist’s parents Bill and Kathy and dinner at Balance after the tree was lit. Bill and Jay were in the same boat of being anxious for the tree to be lit earlier and hungry. Thank goodness they had each other all night! We had a nice, healthy delicious dinner-that I could begin to taste. I had the house salad (minus the feta cheese and other things not on my detox) with grilled salmon. It was wonderful. At the table next to us was by chance, a guy I met when he was a single dad at a playgroup, a classmate of Jack’s, mom, a few others and my infamous hula hoop instructor and her husband who is also from Pgh, who I never would have met except for living here under the sheltering tree. We didn’t know they’d be there too!
The day is beginning and it’s barely 20*. The rain stick is saying sun today. I love it. What’s up for today?
The factory will be busy. Merch is needed for the coffee shop and I’m finally able to do it. Gotta get going!
In the meantime, do something you’ve never done before. Find your passion and explore it. Every single day is a gift. I’m off to tend my passion.