It's nearly 2 pm on New Year's Day, and there's a hunk of pork simmering in my crock pot. My Central Pennsylvania friends are nodding and smiling, inhaling the aroma of pork and sauerkraut simmering in their houses as they read this.
My New Jersey friends are wondering what the heck this post is about.
I just poked at it (the pork, not NJ) with a fork to see if there's any chance it will be ready for dinner when my family is. If I were a betting woman, I'd say my odds are 50-50. Better if I nudge the crock pot up to "high."
I think I'd have had a better chance if I'd gone with the Italian tradition, which probably has something to do with "gravy" (spaghetti sauce, for my Pennsylvania Dutch friends), but I'd have had to call my mother to find out what that Italian tradition is.
After more than thirty years in Pennsylvania, I still have not fully embraced the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions that began infusing my life when I came to Pennsylvania to attend college. After college, I went to grad school in PA. I got my first (and second, and third, and current) job in PA. I married a PA boy. I'm sort of dug in.
But I remain a Jersey girl.
This is not news to anyone who knows me. Because, as the saying goes, you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can't take Jersey out of the girl.
Good luck to anyone who plans to try.
Let's get a few things straight. My Jersey is not Mafia, Jersey Shore or Newark. My Jersey is the Garden State, historic towns and Atlantic City before casinos.
Jersey is small, loud and proud. Brave. Indomitable. Stubborn.
You don't mess with Jersey, you see, not because she'll put a hit out on you, but because, under the proper circumstances, she can roll out the sort of pit bull personality that makes you sorry you started in the first place.
But, contrary to popular belief, Jersey has class. Jersey has style. Okay, it's a style all its own, but it's style nevertheless. Jersey will stand up for what she believes, fight a fair fight and walk away with her manicure intact.
And, given time, she'll stop holding a grudge.
Jersey girls forgive, but they don't forget. They embrace the philosophy that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. They learn from the lessons life hands them and they move on to tackle the next obstacle. They love fiercely, believe passionately, and toss a hunk of pork into the crock pot because it makes their family happy, but they make their husbands cook that disgusting sauerkraut.
If you're lucky enough to know a Jersey girl, you know when to step in, and when to back away. But best of all, you know you have a friend who's loyal through thick and thin...and who expects the same from you.
Happy New Year to all my Jersey friends...and those I've adopted from so many other places.