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Valentine’s Day has always been a somewhat strange holiday for Tom and I. He used to sell roses years ago so the whole holiday has a different taste for us. The holiday is quite a manufactured money maker and we have tried to instill in our boys that fact. There are 364 other days of the year to show the one you love how much you care and how special they are to you.

For years, we used to go out as a group and probably one of our best Valentine’s Day stories has nothing to do with us, per se. We had made reservations with a few other couples to go down to the Ironbound section of Newark for Portuguese food. Turns out that one of the couples had to cancel. While we were standing in the lobby of an extremely crowded restaurant waiting (we only had to wait 1/2 hour since we had reservations – weren’t we lucky?) a young couple came in and the guy walked up to the maitre d  and politely asked for a table for 2. At least they were kind enough not to laugh in his face when he said he didn’t have a reservation, instead they told him that he could be seated at 11:30 (yes, that’s p.m.) mind you, this was around 7 ish. Turns out, we happened to have an extra two seats, so we went up to them and asked if they’d like, they could sit at the end of our table (and we promised to leave them by themselves as much as possible considering we were all sitting at the same table). Turns out, they agreed. We bought them each a Valentine’s Day drink, wound up laughing and talking together for a good part of the evening. It was a very nice Valentine’s Day.

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Valentine’s Day has morphed through our relationship from the initial over-advertised guilt ridden day created by a card company with the expensive flowers and traditional dinner in a restaurant that was over crowded and overbooked through those days of group Valentine dinners with friends, to the occasional missed Valentine’s Day altogether when it managed to coincide with Tom’s snowmobile treks, to the take out Chinese dinner eaten in front of the fire on the floor. Tonight, the plan was that our youngest son and his girlfriend were cooking us dinner. They were going to then watch a movie and we were going to watch a show by the fire. Plans however, still change. A couple hours ago, I got a call from my oldest that he and a group of friends were driving down from school to go snowboarding and obviously to have dinner at home. While Tim and his girlfriend are still cooking us dinner, I am cooking sushi for the boys that are descending upon us any time now. It will be a different kind of Valentine’s Day once again — but a good one anytime you are surrounded by the ones that you love and who love you back.

One thing that has not changed through the years, the constant tradition, is the chocolate covered strawberries. Every year for as long as I can remember, I have made chocolate covered strawberries for all my men.

However you choose to celebrate or if you even celebrate at all…..Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Another Christmas tradition around here is the fact that I always seem to be sick on Christmas. For more times than not, I remember having a sore throat or some form of a cold on Christmas. I am sitting up, typing this at 4:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve to let you know that tradition continues. Yesterday we took a trip up to Burlington to let the boys finish up some Christmas shopping. By the time we got home, I had that “off” feeling in my throat and sure enough, popped awake at 3 a.m. with a sore throat. It’s not terrible, just annoying enough to put a cramp in my Christmas style….or maybe to keep up the Christmas tradition, I guess it depends on your perspective.

On another note, it seems that at least a part of my Christmas cactus actually remembers that it is a Christmas cactus and not a Thanksgiving cactus. While most of it bloomed right around Thanksgiving time, I noticed a small bud, that gradually grew and is opening just about now.

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Tom and I are always amazed at what becomes “tradition” with our boys. It somehow seems that the “big” things usually aren’t quite as important as the “little” things. As we enter into the homestretch of the Christmas season, less than two weeks to go, “tradition” becomes more and more evident around the T’s House.

I will never forget when we first moved here full-time and our oldest walked, pacing back and forth through the downstairs, quietly conducting some type of survey. When prompted, he informed me that he was looking for the spot to hang the Christmas cards since in our old house, the archway between the dining room and living room was decorated with a large red ribbon and bow and from it we hung all the Christmas cards that we received through the weeks leading up to Christmas. He was disturbed that our house here in Vermont really doesn’t have any archways (or even real doorways for that matter) and this presented a challenge to him. I am happy to report that ingenuity won out and our non-archway doorways leading into the living room were outfitted with red ribbons and bows and Christmas cards that year. Seemingly small and inconsequential to us, (the cards would have gone somewhere on display) it was so much more for the boys.

My father-in-law a few weeks ago struck a pose with his new birthday gift and announced – “here’s a picture for the calendar” so it seems that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. He was referencing the fact that for the past couple years, I have given both our families photo calendars as gifts chock full of photographs of both families from the preceding year. Well, if I wasn’t planning on a calendar this year…..guess I am now…..after all it’s tradition.

The first Tuesday in March is Town Meeting Day. It is a Vermont holiday. This is a Vermont tradition that dates back to before Vermont was even a state. The first town meeting was held in Bennington in 1762 – 15 years before Vermont was created.

In the late 1700s, as today, town citizens in Vermont held meetings so that they could address the problems and issues they faced collectively. Popular matters of legislation in earlier town meetings included whether or not to let pigs run free or whether smallpox vaccinations should be allowed in the town (some thought vaccinations were dangerous). Voters also decided what goods or labor could be used as payment for taxes.

Our town meeting is held today and the actual voting occurs on Town Meeting Day or Tuesday, March 2nd by Australian ballot. Fittingly, the meeting is held at the elementary school and is preceded by a bake sale by the school children to raise money for their 6th grade trip. This meeting presents the opportunity for all the residents of a town to gather, as a community, meet each other and discuss the issues that concern us all. Everyone is encouraged to speak their mind. Some towns conduct the meeting, discussion and floor elections all at the same time; while other towns, like ours, have Australian ballot voting on the issues that require a vote.

Before the meeting everyone in town receives the Town Report. This is a booklet which contains all sort of nifty information about what transpired in our town since the last town meeting including the minutes of that meeting. The town meeting is only for registered voters and this will be the first year that Tom and I can attend and voice our opinion if we want. I am excited to attend and witness this piece of history. This is truly different from anything that we had in New Jersey.

Over the past 200 years little has changed about what actually happens at town meeting. The meeting begins with each town electing a moderator who runs the town meeting. The town clerk keeps minutes of the discussion and records the votes.

Every town begins its meetings in its own way.  After the moderator “calls the meeting to order” (by banging the gavel and asking everyone to quiet down so the meeting can start), many towns begin with the Pledge of Allegiance.  Some introduce the selectboard or school board, some thank the volunteers who are providing food or displays at the meeting, some welcome and recognize the oldest or newest members of the community, and some simply get down to the business of the day.

This is yet another example of the sense of community in our little corner of the world.

Quotes and general information are courtesy of the Vermont Secretary of State’s website: http://www.sec.state.vt.us/TownMeeting/index.html

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