My little Elf on a Shelf has been watching me with bemused delight as I navigated my way through the ups and downs of the last two weeks.
Christmas is only days away and it looks like I’m going to make it. For a while there I wasn’t too sure. Nothing too dire, mind you, but a complication that could have thrown a large monkey wrench into the whole Christmas works. Let me explain.
Last Tuesday I was scheduled for jury duty at the Camden County Hall of Justice in the City of Camden. Camden is not exactly the garden spot of the Garden State of New Jersey. Situated across the Delaware River from the City of Philadelphia, Camden was once a beautiful place to live.
It was the birthplace of the RCA Victor recording company that made the first recordings of the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso
and is home to the Campbell Soup Company, which changed our eating habits forever by condensing soup and putting it in a can. Sadly, the City has fallen into decline over the decades despite periodic efforts to revitalize it. In fact, its high crime rate has earned it the dubious honor as the murder capital of the country.
So, with less than two weeks to go before Christmas and still so much to do, I found myself in the basement of the Camden County Hall of Justice along with several hundred other hapless souls waiting to see if I would end up on a jury. At 9:00 a.m. my number was called and 50 of us made our way to Courtroom no. 52 for a malpractice case, which meant that it would be a long and complicated trial that could last until Christmas. Yikes!!! Juror after juror was called, most of whom were excused for one reason or another.
My luck held out until about 3:30 when I was finally called. Oh no!! I still had Christmas shopping to do, decorations to put up, Christmas cards to write, etc., etc. I was a wreck. Luckily, after being questioned, I was excused and with a huge sigh of relief, I bolted back to the jury assembly room to wait out the rest of the day.
The room was pretty full, but I spotted an empty seat next to a stylish lady with an artfully tied scarf. There was something warm and inviting about her – maybe it was the scarf (You know my penchant for scarves!!).
“Is someone sitting here?” I asked. “Yes, you,” she replied with a smile. What are the odds of walking into a crowded room of total strangers and sitting next to a woman who shares so many of your cultural interests, not to mention both of you having a French father?
Ann Moser Trenka has spent her life as a classical dancer both here and abroad and is the Founder and Director of the Cooper River Ballet. Needless to say, we hit it off instantly.
Suddenly I was reminiscing about my early years at the barre as wonderful, long-forgotten memories came flooding back. What a terrific way to end a long and stressful day. We promised to get together after the holidays, and I promise that you will be hearing more about this incredibly interesting lady as she also promised to let me interview her for my Blog.
Two days later I was sitting in the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia sipping tea with three lady friends in the Mary Cassatt Tea Room.
I can’t think of a lovelier way to spend a wintry afternoon. Everything was delicious, the service was impeccable and the atmosphere was warm and cozy – a far cry from that chilly Camden courtroom.
My house got decorated over the weekend (See “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things”) and the Christmas shopping was finished on Monday.
The gift wrapping was done on Tuesday, with a little help from Miss Kiri Kat, who was clearly trying to redeem herself after knocking the Baby Jesus from the crèche on the floor and decking poor St. Joseph.
On Wednesday, my cleaning lady, Nicole, arrived with homemade cookies wrapped up in a beautiful red and green box decorated with an adorable little sled made of painted popsicle sticks. Nicole comes from a large Italian family and every holiday is special to them. For Thanksgiving she dropped off two huge containers of Italian Holiday Soup (a/k/a Italian Wedding Soup), the famous escarole soup with tiny meatballs and rice. Every Italian cook has his/her own version of this soup and Nicole’s was just delicious!!
Her Christmas cookies are to die for, too, but that little popsicle stick sled absolutely stole my heart.
Every year, Nicole and her daughters bake cookies and make a special Christmas ornament, different every year, for family and friends. It’s precious mother-and-daughter girl time that has become a loving family tradition.
Not being especially “crafty,” I am always in awe of those who are. This little sled absolutely, dare I say it, “sleighed” me.
If you would like to make one, check out Jenn’s Clean & Scentsible web site that has step-by-step instructions on how to make your very own Christmas Ornament Popsicle Stick Sled. It looks easy enough that if I were the crafty sort I might actually try it.
But, since I’m not, I think I’ll just make myself a cup of Ginger Peach Tea and have one of Nicole’s yummy Christmas cookies.
Yes, I think I’m ready for you, Christmas. Bring it on!!