When I was a kid I loved New Year's Eve because it was undoubtedly accompanied by one of my favorite things.
My folks are wonderful people and they always held a great appreciation of everything they had. As children they would scrimp and save to give us the things we wanted and to make us happy.
My sister always tells a story where she and a friend were out with our parents and Dad said they could order anything they wanted from the menu of the restaurant they'd stopped at. They ended up ordering lobster which was about as far from my Dad's normal price range for a meal out as you could get. Instead of convincing them to order something more affordable, he let them have a lobster feast and the memory that went along with it. For an evening they were the classy, sophisticated, incredibly chic girls who dined on lobster at a fancy restaurant.
Even though lobster might not have been standard fare in the Kilbert household, we always had home cooked meals and lots to share with any friends who might happen by. On special occasions there was always an assortment of food that my folks believed to be essential to entertaining. If there were just the three of us in later years or they were expecting a house full of guests there were trays of food that held the same items, and they screamed "this is a party!"
On any Kilbert celebration table there were cheeses galore. There was always a block of smoky which had a dark checkerboard pattern on the rind which was a favorite of us all, and also cheddar, Swiss, Colby and pepper jack. My Mom would cut them into cubes and put out the fancy little toothpicks with the cellophane flags on them.
There were always cookies, especially pizelles which Mom and I would make in huge batches of lemon, almond, anise and chocolate flavors. There were often bear paw cookies made from cracker meal pressed into molds and rolled in cinnamon sugar hot from the oven.
There were chips and onion dip, Andy Capp's hot fries and Cheez-Its as well as a ton of different types of crackers. There were always Triscuits which were my favorite along with Chicken n' Biskets which were the ones my Dad loved. In the center of it all was a mile high pile of pepperoni from the Amish market in Mercer.
This pepperoni was amazing. It usually came in a huge stick that was over two feet long and my mother would cut it in incredibly thick slices. If you didn't get to it before my Dad did he would have half of it disappeared before you knew what happened. It was salty, greasy and totally delicious.
On the first New Year's Eve I spent away from home as an undergraduate student, Mom actually mailed me a stick of that pepperoni in a cardboard poster tube. I screamed with delight when I opened it and all of my friends thought I was nuts until they had a fifty cent piece sized, round slices cut as thick as a steak. Then they too were converts to the perfect party food. My Mom sent pepperoni sticks to me all the way across the country when I lived in Alabama too. It seemed like the New Year was actually going to be great when it started out with this staple and when Dick Clark was narrating the ball drop on tv.
Tonight I will probably sleep through the ball drop. There won't be an amazing assortment of cheeses and cookies and I will be missing my family and all the good folks who shared those pepperoni sticks with me. I will go to the fridge and stack about 15 slices of pepperoni together and take a bite to end the year with the taste of nostalgia and the hope for a lovely future.
Happy New Year friends. I hope it is your best year yet. Here's hoping there is something delicious in store for you tonight and a bright future ahead of you. Much love to you all!