One of the most memorable experiences I’ve already had in Pennsylvania is their Christmas. Back in the Philippines, New Year is more important to celebrate than Christmas, at least for my family, but not here. Christmas is the most extravagant day and everyone looks forward to celebrating it every year. I couldn’t believe how much effort they put on making their Christmas special here. Have you heard of Black Friday? I am sure you did or if not then this is one of the things you should learn about and better not to experience it. It’s good I didn’t.
Before Christmas, there is Thanksgiving day which is one of the big holidays here. They celebrate it every fourth Thursday of November and the day after that is Black Friday. Black Friday is the day when everyone does their last minute shopping. I noticed most of the stores offer fifty percent discounts on their products. I guess people do this because they want to buy the most unique gifts for their loved ones at their best prices. Well, most of the incidents on Black Friday I saw on TV caused people to fight each other and the opening of the stores that offer huge discounts resulted to stampede. I am really glad I didn’t do the last minute shopping.
Pennsylvania, for me, is a huge state consisted of mountainous and flat areas. It is beautiful here especially in the suburban and rural parts of it. It is the home to the Amish community and, from what I have heard, the Mennonites. Philly Cheese steak is the food to try here and Eagles is their team. I’ve learned from someone that a lot of people from different parts of Europe moved here and they all contributed to the rich cultural heritage of the state. What I like the most here is the architectural structures of the houses. They are so unique and I thought I was in Europe when I saw the houses here, be it big or small.
During my Christmas shopping I visited some places with amazing architecture and wonderful history. I went to this Christkindlmarkt which is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. As you can see, this is very much German in spelling. From what I have learned, this was a refinery which gave jobs to thousands of people who lived here. But when the global recession hit the US, they were forced to close this refinery and laid off all their employees. These days, the government turned it into a market where people can shop for unique gifts and eat different kinds of food. I had the Bratwurst sandwich and it was so good.
Another place is called the Peddler’s Village where entrepreneurs showcased their magnificent products. I loved a lot of their handcrafted items there. I wanted to buy almost everything they had. I mean just take a look at this flower tree right here. Isn’t it pretty?
Aside from these incredible items, I found a place where you can trace your ancestry. They even have the old maps and rum cakes. I wish I was able to take a picture of them but I have a picture of the big handcrafted boat that you can put in your library.
Among all the places I have been to, Skippack is my favorite. My husband and I drove up to this place a couple of times. Skippack is a small town that is not only great for unique gifts and restaurants but also a place to see this huge tree that they light up every December, a week or two before Christmas. This is a town where you can see luminaries and driving here in December is magical. I really felt the spirit of Christmas.
My husband’s family’s tradition on Christmas eve is to drive around the neighborhood and see the houses with glamorous Christmas decorations. I will never forget how beautiful it was. That was a great time and I am glad I had the opportunity to do it with my husband and his parents.
In the morning, my mother-in-law made a delicious breakfast consisted of French toast and bacon which were a great complement for a cup of coffee. After breakfast was the time we opened our gifts for each other and it was a lot of fun. My heart was filled with joy as I experienced a lovely time with my in-laws. That time I realized that it was not the gifts that made me happy, it was the warmth of love that was shown to me. It was a quiet but filled with love Christmas.
I also want to include this very loving fur creature who became my companion on watching squirrels. Sometimes she plays “hard to get” but she made me happy on Christmas day. This picture below is Sabrina and I told her that I have a gift for her. She looked unhappy here but I knew deep inside that she liked my gift.
With this experience, I look forward to more Christmas celebration here. I am grateful that I was able to share this experience with all of you. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as I enjoyed telling this story to you.
Written by Rachel Arevalo