Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Friends, Family, Food and Fireworks
We just got back from New Hampshire this past Saturday, but our vacation began last Thursday. We attended the annual gathering of my wife's extended family for food, fellowship and fireworks at her cousin's home on beautiful Lake Mohawk, NJ. This is an annual tradition. There were well over 150 people there and my wife is related to most of them. Many are descendants of Christine's grandmother and grandfather who came from Norway in the early part of the last century and eventually settled in New Jersey. I believe we have only missed one "4th of July" party at the Lake since we have been married. It is really interesting to look back over the years and see how the family has grown and how individuals have changed and yet stayed the same. This year was a little bitter sweet for us, as only one of four children came with us. The others were either working at camp or at music events they had committed to.
One of the highlights of the day is catching with old friends and family members. We break out the pictures. We talk about how the kids are doing in school. We commemorate milestones, meet new family members and just enjoy each other. And of course we eat. The eating at this annual gathering follows a time honored tradition. People begin to arrive around coffee hour. That is around 2 PM. The table will be laden with all kinds of baked goodies and there is strong, hot coffee. People roll in over the next couple of hours and take what they like from the table.
Around 4 PM or so, the goodies are cleared and the table gets prepared for dinner. We all line up and get our good. This year the main dishes were pulled pork, hot dogs, and rosemary chicken. There are all kinds of sides and salads: baked bean, fruit salads, tomato and mozzarella, and many more items to numerous to name.
After supper the table is cleared and the coffee hour cakes and goodies are brought back out, along with two enormous cakes from the Viking Bakery in Denville. One of the cakes is the general happy 4th of July cake and the other is a cake to celebrate whatever milestone we are celebrating. This year we were celebrating the engagement of the host's daughter. These Viking Bakery cakes are pretty interesting. They are the only cakes I have ever had that are covered in a thinly rolled out sheet of marzipan. Inside there is white cake, a layer of whipped cream and a thick layer of raspberry preserves. They are rich and delicious.
After we have made our way for the final time trough the food line, we take our goodies and coffee, find a good spot and settle in to watch the fireworks.
After the fireworks, my wife and drove back to her mom's house in West Orange filled to the brim, not just with the great food, but with the blessing of the abundance of family, friends, love and goodness that we have been given in this life.