When I was a little girl, my parents always had a grown-up Christmas party with three couples: one set of Dad’s childhood friends and two couples they met as young marrieds. It was usually the first Friday in December and I waited for that all year, even though I wasn’t really invited. If we were lucky, we would get the first snow that night and the guests would bring me presents, including my favorite—Price’s Candy nonpareils from Kaufmann’s. As the hour grew later, the beer and Sambuca flowed more freely and I was sent to bed; their laughter would rise through the house, racing the smoke in the chimney to the sky. I would sometimes curl to sleep at the top of the stairs so I could be as close to the laughter as possible, letting it wash through me. If they were happy, nothing could be wrong in the world.
My mom loved parties, but she was no Betty Crocker. The cookies were from Archway, except for a few luscious years, when she went to Jenny Lee Bakery. She splayed them on an embossed aluminum tray that only came out at the holidays. She presented some sort of coagulated yellow cheese rolled in almonds into a ball with Ritz crackers on a brown wooden tray with a ceramic insert, and piled stacks of ribbon candy in green ceramic bowls that fit together like a puzzle.
This fall, I spent a lot of time cleaning out my childhood home. My mother died 10 years ago this month and my dad recently moved to assisted living, so it was up to me to go through a lifetime of things. We have a small house so I couldn’t take a lot. I found the wooden tray and the green ceramic puzzle pieces behind my dad’s bar and I sent those away without much thought. But as I gripped the aluminum tray, it reminded me of the sweets and laughter and I knew it had to come home with me.
If you’re looking for a new twist on holiday treats, read Cynthia Weisfield’s story about a special Mt. Lebanon family and the cookies Ilhem Bockstaller makes from her native Algeria.
All of us who work for you at the Municipality of Mt. Lebanon wish you and your family the sweetest of holiday seasons. We hope your holidays are filled with fantastic health, good friends and plenty of laughter. At Mt. Lebanon Magazine, we’d like to send special greetings to all of our advertisers and all the folks who shared their experiences with our writers.
As we head into January, we’ll have a special surprise for you. But we’re not going to unwrap that present just yet …
Laura Pace Lilley, Editor in Chief
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