A Grand and Festive Occasion to Give Tributes to Nat and Jen

Our family homestead in Blawenburg, New Jersey, since 1960.
Our family homestead in Blawenburg, New Jersey, since 1960.

What a momentous occasion last Saturday night was!  We joined our close family members to celebrate two milestones. Nathaniel Hartshorne turned 90 and Jennifer Gilbert turned 60. A father and a sister with the same birthday!

Dad and Jen are both foodies, both enjoy fine wines and cuisine that’s got a little heart. So it was decided that instead of a limousine ride to a distant Philadelphia or New Brunswick outpost, we’d dine right there. In Blawenburg.

The burg I grew up in with only a few businesses, has one called the Blawenburg Cafe. The building its in has its own storied history, it was a place where I spent a lot of time with my friend Reed when they lived there when I was very young, and then it was the home of Jenny’s Catering Company.  Later it was the home of my sister Brown, and her kids, and now it’s where younger sis Caroline and her kids live.

Nat Hartshorne, with daughter and my older sister Anne Allen.
Nat Hartshorne, with daughter and my older sister Anne Allen.

So they hired Rodney, the fine chef who has been running the cafe for the past few years to cater a superb feast.

We had six courses, and every bite was well planned out, had its own pizzaz, and between the courses we gave tributes.  I give special kudos to the octopus bites and the mushroom with pasta course.

Giving Tributes

Tributes and speeches are a fine old Hartshorne tradition. We do it as many times as we can, whether it’s a birthday, a milestone like this or just a new year, and at funerals, and at weddings.

We cherish these times when you have to really think about what you want to say…you plan it, you craft it, you get it right, hone it, and then you share it.

My problem is that I quiver. I quiver with emotion and sometimes begin crying, while I’m trying to do the tribute. Memories seems to well me up, tender memories or even vague foggy ones. They all do that.

I wrote two tributes, one for Nat and one for Jenny.  Got through them even though the crying was not completely quelled.  Crying…in a good way, I guess.

For how fitting is it to share these positive thoughts, these memories that ring sweet to you, these stories you’ve carried around for so many years and you’re finally sharing them.  Thank God we did all of this when Bumpy and Jen are here with us. Not just poured out at a sad memorial service.