chester county christmas memories of a more recent vintage: west chester and everyone loves a parade!

This 2014 photo comes from my high school friend Lee Ann Embrey. She is also one of the best photographers in Chester County.

The photo came with an attached message:

This is one of my favorite photos  (in the recent past) of the West Chester Christmas parade.  Feel free to use on your blog / great idea!  It is one of my favorite Chester County traditions to attend around the holidays.  

thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving. The ultimate all-American holiday. I will note however, “Thanksgivings” are also throughout history a common thing in many cultures after bringing in the harvest.

Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to the colonies of New England. Several Thanksgivings were held in early New England history that have been identified as being the first feasts including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.

However, there was a regional battle forever as to where the first Thanksgiving was held. Was it New England or in Virginia? You see, in 1619 the arrival of English settlers at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia, concluded with a religious celebration as dictated by the group’s charter. A Thanksgiving.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

Thanksgiving and as to what it meant carried on into the Revolutionary War Era. A lot of it involved proclamations and political wrangling which is well, an American tradition, correct? As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.”

Thanksgiving was observed on various dates throughout our history. Truthfully if you research it, the actual date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century, and Halloween in 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a presidential proclamation changing the holiday to the next to last Thursday in November, for business and commerce reasons.

Then along came President John F. Kennedy and his Proclamation 3560 on November 5, 1963, which said in part: “Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together, and for the faith which united them with their God.” He wanted to bridge the gap between the North and South rivalries over who Thanksgivinged first.

There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American. ~O. Henry

So now to our family and other Thanksgivings. By “our” I mean everyone out there. Are they ever the perfect holiday we envision from Currier and Ives prints? Or Norman Rockwell? Or the Hallmark Channel movies and reruns of The Waltons?

I know mine haven’t been but I still love the holiday. Some of my favorite Thanksgivings spent as a child were all of the ones we spent with family friends who moved from Pennsylvania to Bethesda, Maryland and then to Summit, New Jersey. The celebrations were large (lots of kids), loud (lots of kids and lots of adults laughing), and happy. The food was amazing and no one was expected to be perfect.

I think the best Thanksgivings are spent with those you choose to be with. Not those you feel obligated to be with.

Childhood Thanksgivings I found less fun growing up were the early childhood ones spent with my parents’ respective siblings. Suffice it to say, the adults really didn’t get along, really didn’t even know each other as adults, but felt free to judge each other. So the end result was stiff, and slightly uncomfortable Thanksgivings. The Waltons we weren’t.

As my sister and I grew into adulthood we also had Thanksgivings we spent with our cousin Suzy and her family. I loved those because Suzy made it fun. Then my sister married first so Thanksgivings were split between our family and her in-laws. I also had the Thanksgiving many years prior to when my sister married where my parents decided they were bringing Thanksgiving to my sister and a then boyfriend in New York City and I was adopted by a friend’s family for dinner. That was one of my favorite years and we did not even have turkey. We had a huge capon. If memory serves that was because my friend’s dad did not like turkey. And my friend’s growing up home was made for holidays. It was old and cheerful and warm.

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. ~Johnny Carson

For me there was an 8 plus year period of Thanksgivings I have mostly erased or have tried to erase from my memory. I call those the purgatory Thanksgiving years. The person I was in a relationship with had family outside Mechanicsburg and Allentown.

I loved the Mechanicsburg Thanksgivings because his sister in law and her mom were awesome. They loved holidays and celebrating holidays and it showed. Everything was festive and bright.

The Allentown Thanksgivings were somewhat awful as we were crammed into a skinny townhouse in a development on a public golf course with dark painted walls. The paint made already small rooms seem more close, and the sister who hosted had this trick every time like clockwork to let photos of his ex-wife fall out of a sideboard. Half of the Thanksgiving dishes and turkey were served in aluminum foil pans and the dinner plates were dirt brown Pfaltzgraff. These Thanksgivings were depressing and uncomfortable. The people were all basically unhappy and not particularly nice and you could feel it. You weren’t one of them and they got that feeling across.

After those years, and sprinkled occasionally throughout my life there were other kinds of Thanksgivings. These were the holidays spent in restaurants or clubs like The Merion Cricket Club. Those were fun holidays too, but part of the “thing” of Thanksgiving to me is how your whole house smells while cooking Thanksgiving dinner, combined with the smell of a fire in the fireplace or wood stove.

I will note one Thanksgiving decades ago when my mother had invited SO many we couldn’t handle the crowd my parents made reservations at a restaurant in Radnor called the Greenhouse. Now you know I am dating myself to the late 1970s because that was when we did Thanksgiving there. When you did Thanksgiving at The Greenhouse you could order your own turkey for your group if your reservation group was large enough. And it was a really cool place literally in old greenhouses and a converted stable portion dating back to the 1760s which some historians still say once housed George Washington’s horse. Not George, just the horse. Today the location is known as 333 Belrose and is owned by a high school friend.

Now as the years have past and life and time have moved forward, Thanksgiving has changed again. It’s like an ever evolving holiday in our lives. I truthfully love cooking Thanksgiving. It’s also a time for me to play with my vintage linens and dishes and is the one time of year that vintage ceramic turkey sees the light of day as a centerpiece.

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow, which may mean every day, or once in seven days, at least. ~Edward Sandford Martin

Some Thanksgivings now are just our little family and sometimes expanded with other family and friends. This year it’s a smaller gathering so there will be lots of leftovers!

Right now the turkey gizzards, neck, and vegetables are burbling away on the stove as I make the broth I will use later. The cranberry sauce is made, and so are the sweet potatoes and butternut squash. The potato and squash purée will go into the oven to warm up after the turkey comes out to rest. There will be a pumpkin pecan pie but I am unhappy with the pie crust.

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need. ” ~ Unknown

I am grateful for my life and my family so I love the true celebration of Thanksgiving. A lot of our family and friends are farther flung this year celebrating all over, but celebrating the day wherever they are.

So I hope all of you out there have a terrific Thanksgiving. I will leave you with something to think about. I was thinking about the world we live in today, and specifically the tone of many politicians in this country and rhetoric that is nothing short of anti-immigrant. Think about those first Thanksgivings in this country when the Native Americans served feasts to what were then illegal immigrants from Europe.

“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” ~Albert C Barnes

going goshen

I went to the Goshen Country Fair for the first time ever earlier this evening.

So much fun! I had never been and always wanted to go.

A friend of mine is part of the donut team at the fair and texted us this afternoon and said we had to go.https://extension.psu.edu

I am so glad we did. The fair is pure summer old-fashioned fun! They even had a pie eating contest for kids!

Smaller than the Kimberton Fair, I enjoyed it so much. They had livestock, rides, games, a wonderful chicken dinner, bingo, and of course the once a year treats, warm homemade donuts! And Penn State Extension was there too!

One of the extra fun things for me was the opportunity for the behind the scenes tour of the donut making! I put it on Facebook live on the blog’s Facebook page too!

I also checked out some of foods people entered for judging. Pickled things, honey, jams, and more.

In this crazy world we live in, the simplicity of this terrific fundraiser for Goshen Fire Company was a delight.

As per their history, the Goshen Fire Company was started in 1950 in a small garage in the “Milltown” section of East Goshen with one fire truck and has grown to what it is today, two stations housing 15 pieces of fire apparatus including 3 engines, 2 ladders, 1 rescue, 4 EMS units, 1 traffic unit, 1 brush truck, 1 support unit and 2 chief response vehicles.

Station 54 is located at 1320 Park Ave West Chester PA 19380. Station 56 is located at 1299 Boot Road, West Chester PA 19380.

This was I believe the 69th edition of the fair. Tonight it wraps up the fair for this year.

8/1/18 update to :maybe they should have a tofu roast?

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August 1, 2018 UPDATE: So last evening the fire company released the above. Very carefully scripted in my humble opinion. They say several factors including low ticket sales and the amount of volunteer work to get it done properly- however it’s not not exclusively those reasons necessarily is it? They didn’t say there wasn’t any protest did they?

While I am super happy to hear they are doing well with other fund raisers, many questions remain since the whole pig roast protest thing was reported by multiple individuals including the lady who first posted about this in Malvern Community Forum.

Maybe I have an overly suspicious mind, I really don’t know, but I still think there is more to the story than the public knows. And to Malvern Fire Company, no, I would never undo a donation I gave, but after hearing what I heard, like many others I sent in a small donation because I felt so badly about what I had heard. Now I do not know what to think and honestly, I also don’t quite know how I feel about THAT.

Original post intact below.

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I received this from a friend at 4:51 PM today. I first heard about this this morning. And I was outraged. What I was told is that the poor fire company got emails and phone calls saying a pig roast was a horrible thing to do to an animal, and HUH???

I’m sorry where do these people think that bacon, hotdogs, ribs and more come from?What the hell is wrong with people? And I’m sorry that this news is worth a “what the hell.” This pig roast is a community event that has been quite successful in Malvern Borough for the Malvern Fire Company. Our communities are served by mostly volunteer fire companies and community fundraisers help a lot!

I do not know what is wrong with people moving out here but do they think that their food is grown on either of the roofs of Wegmans, Kimberton Whole Foods, or Whole Foods?

What do they want? A tofu roast?To say you love the community and then to throw a monkey wrench into a successful community summer fundraiser for a local fire company is shameful. And those people who wrote those emails and made those phone calls should be giving immediate donations to the Malvern Fire Company to make up for what they will lose by canceling this event. I know I made a small donation to the Malvern Fire Company this afternoon after I heard about this.

You can make a donation by going to their website and looking for the yellow donate button or my mailing them a check or dropping it off at the fire house on King. They are at 424 E. King Malvern, PA 19355.

Pig roasts, clam bakes, chicken dinners, fairs, carnivals and barbecues are also a hallmark of summer. Old fashioned fun steeped in traditions older than we are.They foster a sense of community and for local fire companies they raise money and help them out. Plus they are helping all of us out by hosting an all-American community event.

If this craziness is true, it is anti-American in my book to fuss and get it cancelled. Anyone who either called or emailed the fire company to protest a pig roast also has no clue as to the agricultural history of Chester County! I get that people are vegan and vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean the entire community at large is or should be. And truthfully when you go to these events if you are vegan and vegetarian you either bring your own food or you find a way to eat around the meat. You don’t up and get a community event cancelled for that or because you dont like it in general do you?

And before somebody rolls up on me saying I am discriminating against vegans and vegetarians, I have them in my family. And what I know about my own family members is they’re not going to go protest to have a community event canceled because it’s not food they eat. They just eat around it and support the community event. Hey what a novel idea – that’s what grown-ups do.

I’ve gone to plenty of beef and beer fundraisers over the course of my life and I don’t drink beer. I have soda instead.

The screenshot above is one I have in its original format but the poster’s name was crossed out for post purposes to protect their identity.

In communities, I don’t think you mess with traditions. Now maybe this pig roast wasn’t an age-old fire company tradition, but it has been a successful event for the past few years and was becoming a new tradition in the summer. I think it’s really pathetic that people would ruin that for the public at large, their community in which they live, and for a beloved local volunteer fire company.

Please consider giving an immediate donation to the Malvern fire company to help them offset the loss they will experience for not holding this event if this is true.

I still think this event should go on and if ignorant people want to protest it like they protest planned deer hunts in Valley Forge Park, let them. They are the ones who are the smaller, ignorant people for it. I’m getting off my soapbox now. I am just appalled at this news if it’s true.

life’s patina summer barn sale

I love Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm in Malvern.

Their summer barn sale is going on and runs through Sunday June 3.

The hours for Saturday June 2 are 9 AM to 5 PM.

The hours for Sunday June 3 are 10 AM to 4 PM.

Willowbrook Farm
1750 N. Valley Rd
Malvern, 19355 United States

Phone:
610-952-2254

Website:
www.lifespatina.com

I found this little quote card there (see screenshot at bottom). It seemed fitting for the day today. Today is the 7th anniversary of my being breast cancer free.

Thanks for stopping by.