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April 19, 2014
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Spanish hot chocolate, Arabian coffee, Chinese tea, candy cane, marzipan, dewdrop, flowers and sugar plum; these are not the contents of a bakery; this is the lineup of goodies in the Land of Sweets in the second act of “The Nutcracker.”

Julenisse; A Christmas phenomenon from Norway

Author’s Note:

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the local chapter of Sons of Norway, Bernt Balchen Lodge #3-566, in Lackawaxen, PA, to learn about Norwegian Christmas traditions. From the good people there, and from an article by Sarah Asp Olson, “Norway’s Nisse” published in the December 2012 issue of SON’s official magazine, Viking, I learned how at Christmas ancient wisdom makes its way to us still.  Read more

Celebrating the holiday with your blended family

The days between October 31 and January 1 are my favorite days of the year. I stop short of naming holidays, because there is so much going on at this time that these days mesh into one great big season of smiles. This is the most exciting time of the year, and yet it can also be the most stressful. But cool heads can prevail, especially in our current society where blended families are more the norm.  Read more

Advent; The season of expectation

Outside the Christian Church, the word “advent” is associated with something that is on the brink of coming, such as, “the advent of the fiscal collapse” heard in the news recently. In the Church, though, Advent is a season of waiting, of expectation, hope and preparation.  Read more

‘Here we come a-wassailing’

So what is wassailing really all about? For a bit of background (according to Readers Digest), “The Christmas spirit often made the rich a little more generous than usual, and bands of beggars and orphans used to dance their way through the snowy streets of England, offering to sing good cheer and to tell good fortune, if the householder would give them a drink from his wassail bowl or a penny or a pork pie or let them stand for a few minutes beside the warmth of his hearth.  Read more

A fortnight of holiday festivities; Throwing open the doors of a grand old house in Milford

MILFORD, PA — One of the grandest old mansions of a bygone era in the Upper Delaware River Valley is Grey Towers, the former home of Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the U.S. Forest Service (1905-1910) and Pennsylvania governor (1923-1927, 1931-1935). One of the most beautiful times of year to visit Grey Towers is in December, when this national historic site is all decked out for Christmas, courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service and the Milford Garden Club.  Read more

Food Traditions - Jewish

Some people don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings about the holidays. Some people aren’t religious. My father is the first one and I am the latter. Now that the holiday season is approaching, what am I to do? As a daughter of a dad who is from a Jewish family, a mom from a Unitarian Universalist family and I not identifying with either, when I just want to enjoy some of the traditional foods associated with Hanukah? Answer: create my own “holiday.”

And that’s exactly what I did.  Read more

Food Traditions - Italian

A smile comes to my face as I remember past Christmases spent with my Italian family. We were lucky to have everyone—my grandparents, aunts and uncles as well as cousins from both sides—come together for the joyous occasion of Christmas Eve.  Read more

Food Traditions - German

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I really look forward to baking Christmas cookies again. Here at our bakery when we make stollen* or other traditional German holiday specialties like macaroons, the sweet aroma takes me right back to my childhood and my great-grandmother’s kitchen.  Read more

Oh, Christmas Tree

There’s nothing like a holiday to remind us of the passing of time. And there’s nothing like a tradition to remind us of family.  Read more

Home for the Holidays

In all of my 22 years of living three miles outside of Narrowsburg I must humbly confess that I had never stepped foot inside the Delaware Valley Art Alliance’s Signature Gifts shop on Main Street. Recently, when I paid them a visit, I saw what a fool I had been.  Read more

Nothing Here is Made in China

One day not long ago, I wandered into a cute little gift shop in Hawley, PA full of one-of-a-kind artworks. Each piece here has been created by a local artist or artisan. The shop, named The Art Market, located in the Silk Mill, 8 Silk Mill Drive in Hawley, is run by the Wayne County Arts Alliance (WCAA) as a place for the organization’s members to show and sell their works. While you’d expect to find paintings and sculpture here (and you will), the shop also is full of hand-crafted holiday gifts in a wide range of prices.  Read more

Step Back In Time - Canal Towne Emporium

For those who have yet to discover Christmas at the Canal Towne Emporium in Wurtsboro, NY, this year looks to be bigger and brighter than ever before. Proprietors Gary and Lyman Holmes have gone above and beyond to bring shoppers a holiday experience that harkens back to a simpler era, keeping a tradition alive that began with their great-great-grandfather in 1869 and has flourished over the course of four generations.  Read more