Watching the [insert food item here] drop on New Year’s Eve

In further proof that Pennsylvanians are just odd march to their own drummer, I found this list of interesting things that get “dropped” in various PA towns during the final minute of each year.

I’ve got nothin’ but love for the state in which I spent my first 22 years, but seriously? Check out this list. Do other towns attempt to imitate the Big Apple by dropping some alternative item at their New Year’s Eve celebration? Or is it just a Pennsylvania thing?

Hey – they don’t have the Waterford crystal ball, but they sure are creative!  Each item is tied to its town’s claim to “fame” (where fame most often equals the town’s native food product, because that’s what we do in PA – we eat).

Cleona, Pennsylvania – a pretzel
Dillsburg, Pennsylvania a pickle
Duncannon, Pennsylvania – a sled
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania – a giant M&M
Falmouth, Pennsylvania – a stuffed goat
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – a strawberry
Hanover, Pennsylvania – a black rose (discontinued)
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania – a lollipop
Lancaster, Pennsylvania – a red rose
Lebanon, Pennsylvania – a bologna
Liverpool, Pennsylvania – a canal boat
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania – a wrench
New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania – a huckleberry
Newville, Pennsylvania – spring
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania- a Heinz Ketchup bottle
Pottsville, Pennsylvania – a bottle of Yuengling beer
Red Lion, Pennsylvania – a cigar
Shippensburg, Pennsylvania – an anchor
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania – a chunk of coal that turns into a diamond at the bottom
York, Pennsylvania – a white rose

If I had to choose based solely on what gets dropped, you’d most likely find me in Pottsville, throwing back a Lager. But then you probably could have guessed that. If there was a town that drops a gin and tonic at midnight, I would so be there. Interestingly, three of the little towns on this list are in my home county.

Which one would you choose?

Winner winner, chicken dinner

Soup Husband Curt called me at work yesterday. He said our dentist had contacted him in follow-up to The Boss’s recent visit and wanted to give us some info about possible orthodontia for him. I was all, oh great, like we can afford that. I think his overbite’s kinda cute!

Curt continued, can you swing by his office on your way home? He has it ready and wants to give it to us. Sure, whatever, I replied. I actually have time today. No problem.

Turns out, it was all a big ruse.  But a good one!  I rolled in and there was Dr. Siegel, next to some big thing propped on a chair and draped in a cloth. One of his assistants came out with a camera and a balloon.

You see, last Fall, I dragged the entire family to his office for our long-overdue dental checkups.  With the move away and then back again, dental visits had slipped down the priority list, but I was determined to get everyone back on schedule. While the two older two sons had been to this dental office, neither the Peezer nor Curt had, so they counted as new patient referrals. Coincidentally, Dr. Siegel was having contest: Anyone who referred a new patient had a chance at winning a 26″ LCD TV!

Here I was, simply fulfilling one of my parental responsibilities by having a trained professional assure me that all those gummy bears and apple juice have not – yet – begun to damage my children’s teeth.  And, as a bonus, I got to nag my husband into his first dental visit in, like, years. (Curt loves dental visits almost as much as he loves heights, or cilantro.)

Who knew dragging your family to the dentist could result in new consumer electronics? I won the TV! I posed for a photo, loaded my prize into the car and headed home.  Turns out, the whole rest of my family was in the know. I have no idea how they managed to keep the secret from me. (This scares me a little bit.)

Dr. Siegel and his staff are great.  I’ve been a patient of his for over 10 years.  I don’t let just anyone dig around in my mouth with sharp metal instruments. He and his staff are so good with the kids, too.  The boys actually look forward to their visits. This is mainly because they get to pick a prize out of the box, but they willingly sit still for the checkup part to earn their reward. Heck, even Curt sits still for his checkup, and he doesn’t even get to choose a prize! He is a very good boy.

So: If you live in Montgomery County, MD, and are looking for a new dentist, please allow me to recommend Dr. Siegel.  Oh, one more thing – be sure to tell him that I sent you!

Mixed-up theology

So. Things have calmed down significantly Chez Soup since I flipped out about not having time to blog.  All the pre-Christmas prep was completed more or less on time.  Santa’s only real SNAFU was that she he brought an Xbox 360 (which his elves refurbished and resold on eBay) but forgot to procure a game to play on it. (All together now: D’OH!) Fortunately, Son was able to borrow a game from an out-of-town neighbor, and with my promise to take him shopping to buy THE ONE GAME that he REALLY WANTED, all was again right with the world. In fact, he said not once, but twice, “This is the best Christmas EVER!” And coming from a hard-to-impress tween, that meant a lot to us. I mean, to Santa.

Meanwhile, word has reached the far corners of the rodent community that it’s DANGEROUS in them there kitchen drawers! We’ve had nary a sign of those clever little dog food-hoarding invaders for the past few days.  Which is good, because I’m getting tired of retrieving the drawers’ contents from various piles and boxes located in other rooms. Maybe we’ll be able to reassemble things soon. Thanks, readers, for all the hints! Especially to the alarmingly knowledgeable Laura. I don’t want to know how she knows so much about mouse carnage but am oh so grateful she shared some tips.

Christmas is a time of traditions, and, like you, I found myself reminiscing about Christmases past. In particular, I was remembering Christmas Eve several years ago. We had recently relocated to Pennsylvania and had not yet found a church where we wanted to worship, so we were guests at a large, mainstream protestant denomination church. The service was billed as a “family” service and was to feature a dramatic musical presentation. That sounds nice, we thought. Something different. Maybe the kids will enjoy it.

Because Christmas is not the time to be unkind, I will simply say this: It was a lot longer than it needed to be. Especially for a presentation that was supposed to appeal to children.  But the real problem for us was in the story’s plot, for you see, the children were trying to help SANTA CLAUS find the TRUE MEANING of CHRISTMAS, and in the end, they had successfully converted Santa to understand that the birth of the baby Jesus was the reason for Christmas.

And Santa was all, “Oh, of course, you’re right! NOW I understand!” and slapped his forehead, then gave all of the toys in his sleigh to the less fortunate, dismissed the elves, divested himself of all his worldly possessions, gave all his money to the church, and became a monk, THE END.

Um…. Seriously??? Were we the only ones who recognized the obvious clash of the secular traditions with the religious theology?  Hard enough to work that out in our own brains, let alone explain it to These Kids Nowadays, and this little play was not helping our cause one bit.

Curt and I made the mistake of making eye contact and then it was all we could do to not giggle. He and I were both brought up in the church, and our families raised us observing both secular and religious traditions.  And, while we “got it,” we still agree that in many cases, it feels tidier to keep the secular traditions separate from the religious. For example, we both grew up attending church-hosted HALLOWEEN parties.  Huh?  A holiday with Pagan roots, in the church basement? The candy corn be with you. And also with you! Trick or Treat, Amen!

Or perhaps even better: In my little country church, there was an annual Easter EGG HUNT, the day after Good Friday, in the cemetery. I kid you not. The Church Moms would hard-boil and dye real eggs and hide them amongst the tombstones, and the little kids would scramble about, retrieving them.  Well, most of them. The guys who were in charge of mowing the grass in the cemetery would inevitably discover one or two come June or July. Because nothing says “The Lord is Risen Indeed!” like a rotting chicken egg!

Where was I? Oh, yes. So there we were, attempting reverence, yet having to fight the urge to roll our eyes at the thought of Santa being Born Again, when the ushers began handing out neon glow sticks. Now, for the uninitiated, many Christmas Eve services feature candles, and the worshippers pass the flame to each other in order to represent Christ’s light spreading throughout the world.  It’s a lovely, symbolic tradition. At family services, many churches opt for little flashlights because open flames and children do not mix. But this church? GLOW STICKS. So we waved our neon purple and green and orange glow sticks, singing Silent Night, because, really – nothing says “Jesus is Born” like a symbolic flame small plastic tube filled with glowing chemicals.

The minister dismissed the crowd with the traditional instruction to “carry the light of Christ into the world”, which feels great when it’s a flame but a little bit funky when it’s a glow stick.  Nevertheless,  we tucked the light of Christ into our pockets exited the building even more confused than ever about how to reconcile the “reason for the season” with the consumeristic gift-fest that Christmas seems to have become, and struggled to find words to explain to the children that these small, imported glow sticks actually represented the earliest beginnings of Christianity.

We piled into the car and joined the line of traffic that was attempting to leave the area.  There were a couple of helpful men in orange vests, waving those lighted stick-thingys to send cars through the intersection.   I noticed one of the guys had one large stick in his left hand, and in his right hand? He was using one of the church service glow sticks to provide direction to the vehicles. Yes – he was directing traffic with THE LIGHT OF CHRIST.

I’m not sure that’s what the minister meant, but hey, you can read whatever you want into that bit of confused theology.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the unambiguously secular New Year’s Eve party.  Fireworks? Guns? Noisemakers? Champagne? Nothing confusing about that.