By Francis M. Smith
You know the holiday season has arrived when all the Black Friday advertising starts. You will not find me or my family in the stores that day. We spend Thanksgiving weekend up in the woods in a cabin in beautiful Lackawaxen Town- ship in Northeastern Pennsylvania. When I was growing up in a family of nine children, it was tradition that we’d all gather for dinner at my parents’ house — no matter how many spous- es, significant others, and children that meant feeding. I think there was one year when thirty-five people appeared for dinner!
That tradition is continued now in my family, and we have some extended family with us as well for Thanksgiving dinner — fifteen of us this year, including our two bright and gifted children (aren’t all children bright and gifted when they’re yours?), two of my wife’s siblings with their families, and her Mom. It’s a great group and we have a great, relaxing time. There’s no TV in the cabin, so we’re talking to each other, taking walks around the lake, playing games, doing crossword puzzles, reading, and doing a lot of cooking. Our son Wyatt and his cousin Cole had breakfast duty. Everyone pitches in somehow — I even roasted the turkey on the grill.
Right after Thanksgiving, back in New Jersey, the signs of the season spring up all around us. We deck our halls, my wife and daughter bake cookies, and all the old familiar holiday tunes fill the airways. In a way, you can’t escape tradition when you live in a populated area like NJ. We all still carve out our own experience though. A unique tradition from my German heritage lives on in my house, and it involves a food you may not necessarily associate with Christmas: a pickle!
Every year, we decorate the tree with the ornaments we have collected over the years, but the unique - okay fine - it’s downright tacky - pickle ornament remains on the hearth for the season’s guest of honor. Legend has it that Santa puts this ornament on the tree while the children are fast asleep. When the children wake up Christmas morning, they eagerly search for the precious glittering ornament among the branches. Whichever child finds the ornament first gets a special gift from Santa. Luckily for my children, Santa doesn’t like to leave anybody out, and the gift is something that the whole family can enjoy! No matter how old my kids get, they never forget to search for that pickle, and my wife and I still get a kick out of them looking for it.
All families have their own traditions, and it’s great how they can bind us together. As we cel- ebrate the rest of this holiday season, I hope you have traditions with your family that you look forward to each and every year. Whatever your traditions bring, we at Frank Smith Law – Betty, Joyce, Jean, Craig, Alison, and of course, me — wish you happiness, prosperity, and peace.
From our family to yours, we wish you all the joys of the season!