Holidays in Hoboken 2010
[This post is part of the “A Love Affair with Hoboken” series written by resident Lara Kaplan Hanson…]
Holidays in Hoboken: 2010
By Lara Kaplan Hanson
The summer I moved to Hoboken, I didn’t know a soul. My newly acquired roommates from Craigslist were nice enough, but both were bachelors with their own lives to lead. It reminded me of my original move to NYC, a city swarming with people, and yet I had never felt so alone.
Entering my freshman year at Fordham I had been quarantined to the senior dorm, Walsh Hall. As a basketball player, I was subject to living at school year round for training. While other freshman were becoming friends on the younger side of campus, I avoided my senior roommates, who wanted nothing to do with a bright eyed freshman. My new world in Hoboken was ironically similar, but neither situation deterred me. At Fordham I decided to join every club on campus as a way to cultivate friends. My basketball coach teased me about how popular I had become overnight, but little did he know my tricks to the trade.
In Hoboken, I tested the same methods, by joining multiple social groups, playing basketball at the local parks, and assisting with any volunteer opportunities I could find. One pleasant afternoon while strolling through the aromas of Saint Ann’s Feast, I came across the Hoboken Museum & Historical Society. They had a medium size booth full of books about Hoboken, loads of great historical black and white photographs, fun Frank Sinatra pins, postcards from local artists, and bright colored t-shirts noting Hoboken: The 6th Borough of NYC. I found out that by becoming a member of the museum I would get my choice of Hoboken books on display, and an automatic invite to future events. The events consisted of things like garden tours, and tomato and garlic festivals. It sounded absolutely delightful.
I began attending events at the museum, and soon became a loyal volunteer. Our group of volunteers are an eclectic mix of young couples, old wise men, artists, knowledgable women, community advocates and other local faces. The museum, while small in size, was occupied by an impassioned group of Hobokenites, always working towards the next event.
Two weeks ago I saw in my email inbox, an invitation from the museum to carol with the St. Dominic’s Women’s Choir. It had been a childhood dream of mine to carol, and a small item on my general bucket list for life. In the past I had advocated the idea to friends, but they had understandably always looked at me like I had three heads. Happily surprised, I RSVP’d immediately. Not sure what to expect, I awaited the day, then promptly arrived for singing festivities with another Hobokenite (who I had convinced to join the band of troops). Bob Foster, the museum director, who I had worked with over the year, was inside the museum prepping some snacks before the escapade. People slowly wandered in from the cold, and by 7pm with a short dress rehearsal, we were off. The winter air was unforgiving, but this would not dissuade our merry group.
Find out where they traveled to – after the jump!
Caroling around Hoboken
First stop: Starbucks:
For a Wednesday night, I was surprised to see so many people in the coffee shop. We asked the baristas if we might sing, and looking embarrassed on our behalf, they obliged. I was overjoyed to see people actually lay down their books and listen to our little carol. A few sang along, and one friendly fellow even joined our group on route to the next stop. I doubt anyone in the audience would have ever paid to hear us sing, but you could tell they enjoyed the interruption.
Onto the official stops, were homes of people in the neighborhood who had written the museum to request our presence. We entertained their holiday parties and small children in hopes of bringing good cheer. Many of the families asked us into their homes where we were fed amazingly delicious cups of hot cider, and tasty Christmas cookies. One house even fed us a full Hawaiian holiday dinner. We thanked them for the meal by singing the Hawaiian Christmas song, Mele Kalilimaka. This song brought back flashes of my favorite dysfunctional holiday family, the Griswold’s, and my favorite Chevy Chase movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
The most amusing audience had to be the crew at Hoboken’s local tattoo parlor: Hoboken Body Art The worker up front (a tatted out, bald guy with a slightly menacing face) allowed us in to sing, but tried his hardest not to look at us. You could tell he wanted to, but he would have burst out laughing. The scene was perfect. A tattoo artist being sung to by a posse of misfit carolers drunk on holiday cheer. I, myself, had a difficult time controlling the laughter.
Last stop on the tour was Amanda’s Restaurant. Known in Hoboken as one of the best restaurants in town, with the nicest owners (Joyce and Eugene). We concluded with the Twelve Days of Christmas in the wine bar’s beautifully foyer, and bid each other adieu.
I was sad to see the bundled up couples and my newfound choir depart, but alas all good things must come to an close. Over a glass of red wine at Amanda’s, I soaked in the last bit of evening with Joyce and Eugene, and reflected on my happy town.
Only ten years prior I had moved east as a naive eighteen year-old, not knowing if I would stay here after college, and certainly never imagining that I would end up in New Jersey. However, after a year in Hoboken, I have to say, this small town, aside one of the biggest cities in the whole world, is just the loveliest place to live. I am happy to call it home.
This week I’ll be heading to my family’s home to California for a warm Christmas in LA, where I’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas, and watching the ball drop at 9pm pacific standard time. Before I leave, I would like to wish everyone here and around the world a very Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2011.
Check back soon for new year’s resolutions, and other tidbits from around Hoboken!