The First Christmas

No, not the one that took place in a manger in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.  I’m talking about the one that took place in a small village on the North Shore of Long Island in the year 1979.  I’m talking about the first Christmas Susie and I spent as a married couple, in our apartment at One Firwood Road in the Manorhaven section of Port Washington!  

Back in September, we celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary, so this Christmas will be the 40th Anniversary of the first Christmas we spent as married people.  To back up a bit, right from the beginning of our relationship, I knew that Susie loved Christmas.  It was by far her favorite holiday, and she loved the music, the decorations, the food, and everything about it!  So, on Christmas Day, 1978, I asked her if she would spend the rest of her life with me, and be my Mrs.Clause, and she said yes!  So, with that as a background, I’m sure you can imagine how important that first Christmas was for us!

The first item of business was decorating our apartment.  One of the first purchases we made were two sets of red bells that blinked on and off in sequence, kind of like they were ringing.  These we hung in the windows  of our second floor apartment, looking out onto Firwood Road.  They were with us for years!  Of course, a tree was a very important symbol of the holiday, and I wanted to make sure ours was perfect.  It was going to be a real one, and Susie and I headed to Keil Brothers Florist on the corner of the LIE and Springfield Blvd, near my folks Bayside house.  So let’s talk about that tree.

We circled the tree lot multiple times, and looked at a lot of trees, before we found the perfect one for our first Christmas.  It was full, just tall enough, not too wide, and cost $75!  Now, that seemed like a lot back then, but I needed to make our first Christmas perfect for Susie.  As an aside, $75 in 1979 is equal to $265.71 in 2019…know any jerk that would pay $265.71 for a Christmas tree today??? So, we bought this perfect tree, had it tied to the roof of our car, and drove home to our apartment in Port Washington.  

Ginsu KnifeThen it was time to set the tree up in our living room.  We got the stand out and prepared to cut off an inch or so from the bottom of the tree, when I remembered that we were supposed to stop at my folks house in Bayside and pick up the tree saw.  We hadn’t done that!!  So what did we do?  Well, a couple of months before, we attended the NY Auto Show, and at one of the booths there, selling all manor of items, we watched a very fascinating presentation, and then bought a Ginsu Knife!  Yes, we cut off the last inch of our first Christmas tree with our newly purchased Ginsu knife!  Not only did it work (it took a long time but ultimately worked), but that very same Ginsu knife from 40 Christmases ago still resides in our utensil drawer in our Ocean City house!!  As it was our first Christmas, there were not a lot of meaningful ornaments, but we did a pretty good job decorating that first Christmas tree, placing it right in the middle of our living room’s picture window, for all of Port Washington to see.

Growing up, because of the fact that my folks both were members of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Chorus, and might be doing one or two performances on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve had a bigger presence in our household.  That first Christmas laid the groundwork for what Susie and I would do going forward in our life…Christmas Eve with my folks and Christmas day with her family.  That first Christmas Eve, we celebrated with my folks, opening presents while eating Italian cold cut sandwiches.  My folks had a friend in Minnesota who worked for Litton, and our present from my folks that first Christmas was one of the first microwave ovens we’d seen!  Smartly, we chose to leave it at my folks when we headed home late to our Port Washington apartment.  

One Firwood Road

One Firwood Road, was a small 4 unit apartment building, just across the street from Port Washington Harbor in one direction and across the street from the Empty Pockets Bar in the other.  An Asian lady owned the building, and the woman in the apartment below us was the “manager”.  She also was an interesting woman, who would bring home guys from her Saturday nights out, and we heard EVERYTHING!  Well, on this particular Christmas Eve, apparently she’d decided that the crowd at the Empty Pockets was bit rowdy, so she decided to lock the front door of the building…a lock we didn’t have a key for!  So here we were, late at night (1-2 AM) on our first Christmas Eve, after celebrating with my folks, and we were locked out of our apartment!  It was late, cold,  wet, and my new wife and I were locked out!  So what did we do???  We banged on the door and shouted till she showed up and let us in!  I’m sure we disturbed her, and her latest biker “friend,” but we were in our home, and ready for the big fat man in the red suit to show up later that morning!

That first Christmas morning came very early for us, as we wanted to have some alone time to open presents in front of our first Christmas tree, while drinking a little champagne and orange juice, before joining the rest of the family.  What we thought was going to be a special treat for us that morning, turned more into a joke.  WABC Channel 7 had a special Christmas morning showing of Susie’s all time favorite movie, White Christmas.  This was back in the day before we had multiple copies of that movie on video tape, DVD, or digitally, so this was indeed a special treat!  Unfortunately, they showed the movie in a 60 minute time block, complete with commercials.  They probably had about 45 minutes or less, to show a movie that runs over two hours.  As you can probably imagine, the movie was cut to time rather than content, and frankly made little sense to us…and we both knew the movie!  As I said, a potential special treat that turned into a joke!

And that was how Our First Christmas went!  Later that day, we joined the rest of Susie’s family, and a great day was had, and for a brand new couple, Christmas #1 was under our belts!  40 years later, there are lots more Christmas Memories mixed in, but there will only be one first, and that was ours!!  The story of our Ginsu cut Christmas Tree, being locked out, and the very different White Christmas will forever be my memory of my first Christmas with my love, and the beginning of mixing the Johnson and D’Elia Families!  

Christmas Traditions

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In my last blog, I mentioned that we lived in a Hallmark Christmas Town, and that along the way, we’d been watching a whole lot of Hallmark Christmas movies!  Frankly, we are suckers for the movies because we love this time of the year!  Right from the beginning, I knew that Susie loved Christmastime, and that she’d make the perfect Mrs. Clause, so on Christmas Day 1978, I asked Susie to marry me!  Thankfully, she said yes, and started everything for us, including a heck of a lot of our Christmas Traditions!

Christmas Traditions, like all family traditions, are more often than, not born out of necessity.  Do you know the story about the young girl being instructed by her Mom about how to cook a leg of lamb?  Her Mom tells her to cut off the last 2 inches of the leg of lamb, and place it next to the leg.  The girl asks the Mom why, and she replies, “I don’t know, that’s just the way your Grandma always did it.”  The next time she’s with her Grandma, she asks the same question, and Grandma’s answer is, “I don’t know, that’s just the way your Great Grandma always did it.”  A couple of weeks later, she visited her Great Grandma in the Nursing Home and told her what her Mom and Grandma had told her, and asked her Great Grandma, why she cut off the last 2 inches?  Grandma’s answer, “I didn’t have a pan big enough!”  

When I was a kid, both my Mom and Dad were singers in New York’s Metropolitan Opera Chorus.  Holidays were just days on the calendar, and unless they fell on a Sunday, the Met gave a performance.  If it happened to fall on a Saturday, they gave two performances!  The last thing they needed was a little kid (me) waking them up at sunrise on Christmas morning, when they may have gone to bed at 2 AM, and probably had to work that night.  So, in our family the tradition of Christmas Eve became a bigger deal.  Once I was a little older, our Christmas celebration started as soon as my folks got home from their Christmas Eve performance.  Everybody would get into their PJs, we’d drink Andre Champagne, eat Italian cold cut sandwiches, and open presents.  On Christmas morning, I was free to get up, lay under the Christmas tree, and play with gifts, while they got to catch a couple of more hours sleep!

Whenever a family gets blended, traditions from both sides get shoehorned together, and img_1733the Christmas Traditions of that new family are born!  In the early years of our marriage, we’d celebrate with my folks on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day head over to Susie’s folks.  As time went on, there were new traditions born, and more blending took effect.  Somewhere along the line, probably in an effort to emulate the Italian Seven Fishes of Christmas Eve, my Mom and Dad started hosting a lobster dinner on Christmas Eve.  Within a couple of years, Susie’s folks were coming to my folks house on Christmas Eve, and my folks would join us at Susie’s folks’ house on Christmas Day.  The families were indeed blending! 

Then came the kids!  When you have three little kids, Christmas gets to be an even bigger day on the calendar, and the D’Elia Family, since Mrs. Clause happened to be the 3 kids’ Mom, was right up there with the best of them!  Christmas Eve’s at my Mom’s house in Bayside became a huge event, complete with Susie’s folks, lobsters for all, and a need to run to church, where the 3 kids could be a part of the Christmas Eve Pageant every year.  Eventually, as my Mom got older,  Christmas Eve moved to our house in Mineola, but the lobster traditions and the run to the Community Church of East Williston continued, until our 3 were too old to be a part of the pageant.  In later years, as the kids grew, and driver’s licenses were earned, a new tradition was born.  Billy, Krissi, and Kenny would head down to Jordan’s Lobster Farm in Island Park, pick up the lobsters and on the way home, stop at a local diner for breakfast.  

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It’s hard to believe, but it was 40 years ago this Christmas that Susie and I  spent our first Christmas Eve at my folks house as a married couple (we got a microwave).  Although our traditions have changed and been modified here and there, I think my late Mom and Dad would be proud that what started for them out of necessity, is still a huge part of our Christmas life!  While we kept the food traditions that were started years before with my folks, the opening of presents went traditional and landed on Christmas morning!  Dad would come down the stairs to open up the house and turn on the tree, while Mom kept the 3 little one’s at bay.  On the all clear signal, they’d come down the stairs, along with Grandma D’Elia, and everybody would take their “assigned” seats, and we were off and running!  

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Those 3 little kids that we rushed to church on Christmas Eve, and who ran down the Mineola stairs every Christmas morning, are all married adults now, with our oldest even being the Dad of his own three.  We no longer live in the same house, same county, or even the same state.  We won’t be together with all our loved ones this Christmas, but we will do our best to keep the traditions alive!

This year, Our Boys are with us for Christmas.  Kenny and his husband Chris, just back from an almost year long contract with Royal Caribbean, are spending some time with us before starting their new adventure in January.  Krissi and her husband Mike will be up in New York, as a mid-week Christmas doesn’t really lend itself to travel, and Billy is down in North Carolina with his wife Lori and our darlings Layla, Henry, and Annabelle, making their own Christmas Traditions!  Susie’s brother and sister will be home on Long Island.   So, it will fall to Susie and Me and the boys to keep the D’Elia Family traditions alive this year!

img_1732There will be lobsters this year, but rather than getting them at Jordan’s Lobster Farm on Long Island, they will come from the Fish Department at Shoprite in Somers Point.  Not sure about the boys having breakfast out…it may just be some Chinese Food from the hot bar at Shoprite!  The Italian Cold cut sandwiches, and the fried eggplant, and cheeses will be eaten at night, but not be coming from Aridito’s Italian Deli in Mineola, but rather from Shoprite’s Sandwich counter (one stop shopping!).  The cheap champagne however, still has an Andre label on the bottle, and will be drunken out of our Christmas Toasting flutes, that have been a part of every one of Susie and my Christmases!

So there you have it, some of our Christmas Traditions!  Of course, there will be tuning into Jean Sheppard’s Christmas Story on TBS all day, and the sandwiches and champagne will, as always be accompanied by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!  There will be a lot of time hanging in our jammies, laughing at each other, and just creating memories!  That’s what Christmas means to us!!  

Will we miss our other kids on Christmas Eve and Christmas day?  You bet we will, but that’s just the way life is.  One benefit is that it expands the Christmas holiday!  Billy and Lori and the kids will be coming here to Ocean City the day after Christmas, and we’ll get to re-live the traditions all over again!  Early in January, we will visit with Krissi and Mike in Astoria, and once again it will be Christmas!  Things change, but the spirit of those Christmases long ago live on, and I hope they always will in our kids and Grandkids!

So, from our family to your’s, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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Chars!!!  Bonkers!

November 10th, 2019

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Happy 244th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! 

On November 10th, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines with a decree to raise “two battalions of Marines.”  Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia is regarded as the birthplace of the Corps, as many consider it the location where the first Marines enlisted.  The Continental Marines, like the Continental Navy, was disestablished following the close of the Revolutionary War in 1783, but was re-established on July 11th of 1798 by an act signed by President John Adams.  Prior to 1921, it was that July 11th date that was celebrated as the Marine’s birthday, but in 1921 it was suggested that the original date of November 10th be declared a “Marine Holiday”.  Commandant John Lejeune created Marine Corps order #47 which ordered, that from that time forward, November 10th would be officially celebrated as the US Marine Corps Birthday!  

And how, you may ask, do I know all this?  Well, I know this because Susie and I have the honor to be living on Pennlyn Place, bookended by two good friends who are Marines!  Notice I said, “are Marines”, not were Marines.  Even though neither of them are actively serving, the tradition is once a Marine, always a Marine!   We have been fortunate to be included in the annual celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday several times, and that’s where some of this knowledge has come from.

Our immediate neighbor on our left is 98 year old Doie Barnes.  In World War II, Doie was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, having told Susie that her job was to dispatch planes.  She also told Susie one time when she realized that Susie had been a Registered Nurse, that she always wanted to be a nurse, but that her Father said she had to be a secretary, and so she went to Secretarial School.    It was indeed a different time, which only to my mind makes Doie’s service in WWII more incredible!

On the other side of us, one house away, lives our good friends Patti and Meade Rudasill.  As a student at the University of Virginia, Meade was a member of the NAVY ROTC program, and applied for and was accepted for the Marine Option.  Between his Junior and Senior year of college, he went to OCS (Officer Candidate School) and also Jump School at Lakehurst Air Station.  After college, he attended Basic School, where unlike every other service, every Marine Officer goes for 6 months to learn how to be a Marine.  Then it was off to Engineer School, where he could apply his UVA Engineering Degree, but as he said to me, “It was Marine Corps specific and they hadn’t taught me about blowing up things at UVA.”  He was on active duty from 1979 to 1984, having assignments on both the East and West Coasts, and being deployed with the Marine Detachment on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga CV-60 to the Mediterranean.  During his entire Marine carrier, he did “interesting stuff”, to quote my friend.  He rose to the rank of Captain and was selected for Major in the reserves.  After his service in the Marine Corps, he went on to have a successful business career, including being the CEO of QVC, and I know he would say that without a doubt, much of what he learned as a Marine Corps Officer helped him in his business life!  

This years celebration for our Pennlyn Place group was held at Captain Bob’s in the far South End of Ocean City.  Organized by Doie’s Son-In-Law, Doc Anderson, the group included, in addition to Susie and I, Doie and Doc, Patti and Meade, and neighbors Dale Nicholas, Barbara Kichline, and Bob Byrne.  Not exactly a traditional Marine Corps Ball (there was no dancing), but we do our best to help Doie and Meade, as Marine Order #47 orders, “commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of it’s long and illustrious history.” 

One part of our celebration that is in keeping with tradition, is maintaining the cake cutting ceremony, as has been contained in the Marine Drill Manual since 1956.  To quote that manual, “By tradition, the first slice of cake is given to the oldest Marine present, who in turn hands it off to the youngest Marine present, symbolizing the old and experienced Marines passing their knowledge to the new generation of Marines.”  Doc always procures an appropriate cake, and using Meade’s sword, Doie always makes the first cut.  Then, as tradition, Doie will get the first piece of cake and pass it on to Meade, but Doie loves her sweets, so some years it’s a struggle for her to give it up, but there’s always another piece on its way!

Susie and I are proud to have these folks as friends and neighbors, and proud to be included in this annual celebration with them, and in this small way, thank them for their service!   Again, Happy 244th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps, and to all who proudly have earned the name Marine, including our two favorite Marines, Doie Barnes and Meade Rudasill!

Our Marines!

Happy Birthday Marine!!  Semper Fi!

September 29, 1979 – 40 Years!

 

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40 Years ago today, on the afternoon of Saturday September 29th, 1979, at the Interfaith Chapel on the C.W. Post College campus, Susie and I started what has truly been the Great Adventure of our lives! That day, in front of friends and family, we said our vows, and became a married couple.  Why the Interfaith Chapel on the CW Post College Campus? Well, unbeknownst to each other, we’d both gone to Post at the same time! While I was pursuing at Batchelor’s Degree in Music, Susie took her academic classes at Post while a student at Pilgrim State School of Nursing! A connection we never knew about till we started dating in 1977.

I’ve always believed that our union was destined to be, and firmly believe that it was no accident we were brought together by friends in at a July 4th Bar-B-Que. There clearly was a plan for our lives, and today we are still living out the script that was written in the stars!  She’s still my best friend, the one I want to be with when I’m down, the one I want to celebrate with when I’m up, the one who kicks me in the ass when I need it, and the single most important person in my life.  She’s also the best caregiver in the world, as I experienced when I had my knee replaced in July! We don’t live our lives like others do, and that’s all right with us.  It’s our life, and we love it!

The last 40 years have truly been Our Great Adventure! Between buying and selling houses, raising children, going through the sickness and death of parents, working through our health issues, watching all three of our kids walk down the aisle, and ultimately becoming Grand Parents, I have trouble believing it’s been 40 years! In my mind’s eye, I can still see that scared girl walking down the aisle of the Interfaith Chapel with her Dad  like it was yesterday (I would like to forget the brown tuxedos, but hell, it was the 70s!).

I freely admit that we’re dreamers and so far, they’ve all come true!   My life has been a dream, because of the lady I’ve spent it with!  I love you now and forever Susie, and I thank God for bringing us together, and for giving us a wonderful life, filled with wonderful kids and grandkids, and friends that are like family!

My life has been special because you’ve been in it! Thanks for the most wonderful 40 years anybody could ever hope for! The Adventure continues…..

 

Bees Knees #3

Milestones

We are 5 days post operative as I start to write this. I think it is an appropriate time to start talking about Milestones, as there indeed have been several!

#1 – WALKING – This one didn’t take long at all! Barely 5 hours, after coming out of surgery, the PT folks at Shore Medical Center, had me off my back, and on my feet, with the help of a walker! I know that it sounds crazy and rather incredible, but that’s the way it happens in 2019! Susie has read that there are no restrictions on weight bearing for the new knee. It appears that from the moment they sew your leg up, it is ready to be used! Crazy, huh?

#2 – Pain Meds – I came home from the hospital with two prescriptions for pain meds. One for Percocet and another for Tramadon. I’m still not totally clear what the difference is between them, but for the first couple of days, I used both of them. Now, speaking about pain, while there has indeed been some, I can’t say that it had been outrageous or intolerable. The pain has been from the incision, and some muscular pain, but that’s it! There are things that I’ve had to do, that are a pain and some that cause me pain, but not from walking or sitting or exercise. I’m sure a side effect of both of these “pain meds” are strange, almost hallucination like dreams….now that’s not fun. End result, last time I took either of the prescription pain meds was before bed on Sunday night. Since then, I’m using Ibuprofin or Tylenol.

#3 – Showering – I’m sure you’ve all been sick for a couple of days, and confined to your bed or the living room couch, and about Day 3, you start fantasizing about standing in the shower! Well, imagine you’ve just had you leg cut open, your knee hacked out, and a brand new man-made one inserted! You’ve then overnighted in the hospital, then came home, and since then, done nothing but lay around with your leg elevated. Think I wanted a shower?? You bet I did!! Physical Therapist Grady came and visited Saturday morning, and after checking out the house, we talked about showering! The dressing on my incision is waterproof, so that was not an issue. The new knee would have no problem holding my weight, so that was not an issue. He told me to have at it, as long as I abided by the guidelines for showering that were included in my discharge instructions! Sunday, after Bagel Sunday Breakfast, I showered, and it was glorious! Shower 2 came Tuesday, and it too was glorious!!!

#4 – Leg Elevation and Ice – Everything we’ve read, and everything everyone involved in this procedure has told us is that the incision is the bigger thing to worry about, not the implant. They are worried about infection and after that, swelling. There were very exacting procedures to be used pre-surgery to make sure your body is clean, and there are similar, but not as stringent procedures, post surgery to make sure you stay clean. Following those procedures, and making sure your visitors wash their hands are about all you can do to prevent infection, and we have followed those rules to the letter. The other concern its swelling, and that is remedied by keeping you leg straight and elevated ABOVE YOUR HEART, for 20-22 hours a day! Think that’s fun? Add to that, the regular application of ice to the operative sight….20 minuets on, 40 minutes off, round the clock! WOW! To say that this is the worst part, so far, of the knee replacement surgery for me, would not be an exaggeration!! Well, I’m happy to say that Grady, my Physical Therapist just left, and I am done with the 20-22 hours of that, and that I can SLEEP ON MY SIDE!! Yahoo!!!

#5 – Dressing Off – So there is this one-piece waterproof dressing that they put on you in the Operating Room that keeps the incision clean. It’s about 10-12 inches long, and a bit of a pain. Guess what? Grady took it off! I’m free!!!

#6 – Going from Walker to Cane – Once Grady took off my dressing, and liked the way the leg looked and saw no swelling or drainage, he said, “So..lets see how you walk.” I asked walker or not. He said, which ever way you want. I decided no walker! Forget the cane, I can do what I want! I think I impressed him!

So that’s where we are as of the afternoon of Tuesday, July 16th, 2019 – 5 days post surgery! Grady is very happy with my progress, Susie and I are very happy with my progress, and I think there might be a frosty clear alcohol drink (a MARTINI) in my immediate future! There are more milestones to hit (like getting the staples out next Monday), but for now, we are happy with where I am!!

Notice in the video, it is the yet to be replaced right knee giving me a weird gate!

 

Thanks for being along!!

To be continued!!

There Goes The Bride!!

On Saturday June 15th, Krissi and Michael became Mr. and Mrs. Mikowicz, and the young man we fell in love with the night we met him, has become our 4th son (#1 & #2, Billy and Kenny by birth, #3 & #4, Chris and Mike by marriage)! And you want to talk about a smart young man? Michael Joshua Mikowicz met our daughter on June 15th, asked our daughter to marry him on June 15th, and married our daughter on June 15th! One date to remember! Romantic or highly practical? If you ask him, he’d say highly practical, but I think romantic!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Wedding Weekend really started a week before, on Sunday night (June 9th) when we picked up Krissi’s two minute younger brother at the Philadelphia airport. Kenny and his husband Chris, are in the middle of a 12 month contract on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, sailing out of Galveston, and Kenny had signed off for a week to attend his sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t get the week off too, and we have dearly missed our 3rd son this whole week! Kenny had 3 days with us in Ocean City before we headed to New York, so his pre-wedding festivities included dinner at Angelo’s in AC, a drink at Crabby Jacks, dinner at the back bar at Charlies with our good friend Sue, and a visit to our favorite bartender, Ralph, at Harrahs!

 

Then it was off to New York for the real Wedding Weekend, and for the D’Elia Family, this started where our relationship started with Michael, in Mineola. For a number of years, it had been a twice a month tradition for Krissi and Susie to have their nails done late on Wednesday afternoon, while Dad held down a spot next door at the bar of the St. James restaurant.
When they were done, my girls would cross the driveway between the two buildings and join me for a drink, and then we’d all have dinner. “Nail Night”, as we called it, was a long established tradition, and the place Susie and I first met Mike, and a few weeks later, Kenny met Mike, and then Chris met Mike.

 

Krissi thought it was only right, that this trip down memory lane include a traditional Nail Night for the family, so that’s exactly what we did. Kenny and I dropped Susie off a little after 3 at Kim’s Best Nails (Kim happens to be the Mom of a very good high school friend of Krissi’s), while the two of us checked in and dropped off our stuff at the Homewood Suites just down the street from our old Mineola house. Then it was time to head to the St. James and meet Mike, who was getting off the train a little after 4 at the Mineola Station. Hugs were exchanged and drinks were poured, and it was our usual part one of Nail Night. Then when the girls were finished with their pedicures and manicures, they joined us, and the picture was complete!

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We were sorry that our regular bartender Dennis no longer works there, but hugs were exchanged with Mo and Cathy (a couple of favorite waitresses over the years), and the new bartender Barry did a great job making us feel we were home! After drinks, it was time to take the party to a different venue for dinner, Piccolo’s!

Susie and I first went to Piccolo’s the night we purchased our 1989 Ford Taurus wagon, so it has been 30 years we’ve been customers. Over those 30 years, we’ve become friends with the owners and watched their kids grow and they have watched ours do the same. Piccolo’s has become the D’Elia family’s special celebration place for birthday dinners, anniversary dinners, the place to take special friends, even my Mom’s surprise 80th birthday, and a place our kids have enjoyed since they were little! What better place to have a wonderful celebratory dinner, and it did not disappoint! Our old friend Bert was in the kitchen and his son Robbie was working the floor, and the D’Elias once again felt right at home!

 

Then it was time for the kids to return to Astoria, while Mom and Dad relaxed at the hotel, in preparation for the real Wedding Weekend!

After checking into the Paper Factory Hotel Friday afternoon (it had been a paper factory in a former life), getting to see Mike’s folks Paula and Jerry, and our North Carolina Family (our son Billy, our daughter-in-law Lori and grandkids Layla, Henry, and Anna), it was time to head down 2 blocks to Tacuba Mexican Cantina for the big family dinner. From Michael’s side of the family there was his Mom and Dad, and his sister Sara, her husband Gabe, and their kids Maddy and Ethan! From Krissi’s ,there was Susie and I, twin brother Kenny, older brother Billy, his wife Lori and our three grandkids, 5 year old Layla, 3 1/2 year old Henry, and the baby, two month old Anna! It was great, and so familiar to spend time with the Mikowicz Family, or as we like to refer to them, Our Maryland Family! They are great people, and Susie and I are so thrilled to officially make our families one!

 

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Krissi, Henry, Layla, Paula, Jerry, Mike, Ethan, Maddy

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Gabe, Sara, Kenny, Lori, Anna, Sue, Bill

The wedding day started rather leisurely for us with a couple of Queens Bodega egg platters (Damn Kenny…I really wanted the egg Sandwich, but thanks for trying to keep Mom and I low carb) and showers and dressing. Just before noon, Susie went up to help our little girl get dressed, and she loved it…Susie that is! 

 

Then she and I Ubered over to the kids apartment, where the rest of the family was waiting!  Kenny and his sister were the last to arrive, and when they got there, Dad went down in the lobby to stay with his daughter, while Kenny got everybody up to the roof. When it was time, Kenny texted me, and rather than walk my daughter down a long aisle, I rode up to the roof with her in the elevator. Now, just a word about Krissi and Mike’s ceremony desires. They both wanted a small ceremony, with just parents, siblings, and their kids, and that’s what they got! Susie and I, Paula and Jerry, his sister Sara (Maid of honor) and her husband Gabe with their kids Maddy and Ethan, Krissi’s twin Kenny (Best Man), and her older brother Billy, his wife Lori, and our Grandchildren Layla, Henry and Anna. Small, intimate, on the roof of their apartment building in Astoria, NY, with the Manhattan skyline as a back drop. Nobody would have any problem if she wanted 12 Bridesmaids and 12 Groomsmen, but she and Mike wanted to be married this way, and it was wonderful! A perfect setting on a perfect day for a perfect couple!

 

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Wedding Video Courtesy of Ms. Madeline Smith

 

 

 

After the wedding, we adjourned to their apartment for some champagne to toast Krissi and Michael Mikowicz!!

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Cousins…sort of

Then it was off to the Boulevard Wine Bar for the party!

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The staff in this place couldn’t have been better, and the food and drinks kept coming. Being a wine bar, most seemed to be sticking with that (they had Rose, Cabernet, and Pino Grigio on tap), but there were drinks available too! I did ‘Rose-All-Day’ (a shout-out to son #3 on that phrase), and enjoyed seeing, and in some cases meeting, so many old friends of Krissi’s, other members of Mike’s Family, Susie’s sister Barbara and her husband Robbie (Krissi’s Godparents) and their son Ryan, our great friends Pat and Steve from Mineola, and people Krissi and Mike work with. Look, I’m gonna be honest here. When we came in the place, I sat down on a bar stool with my back to the bar, and I stayed there for the entire party! Everybody had to pass by me going in and going out, and I had no trouble getting Gabby the bartender to refill my wine glass! Worked for me!

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My Brother-in-law Robbie, my great friend Steve, my Beautiful Granddaughter Anna – Three (old) Men and a Baby!

Unfortunately, youngest son Kenny had a 7:55 flight to make out of LaGuardia to get back to Texas so he could re-board the Liberty of the Seas on Sunday morning. Just before 6, he changed out of his wedding suit, grabbed his bag, and amidst a lot of hugs and tears, Susie and I walked him out to the street to wait for his Uber. It was great that we had him this week, wonderful that he was able to be there with and for his twin sister, but sad that he couldn’t stay for the rest of the evening, and that his husband Chris couldn’t get off the ship too!
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Uncle Kenny says goodbye to Anna

After the last of the guests left the wine bar, we Ubered over the the Brewery that was to be the first after party, with Mike’s folks Paula and Jerry. We took a look, and the four of us decided that maybe this was time for the “older folks” (or as Jerry called us The Mommas and the Papas) to head back to the hotel and leave the carousing to the younger crowd! So I got us a chicken burrito bowl packed to travel from the food truck outside the brewery… and back to the hotel we went!

As our oldest son Bill and his family were leaving early Sunday morning to head back to North Carolina and celebrate Father’s Day, we said goodbye to our son and granddaughter Layla. (Mom, Henry and Anna had hit the hay by the time we got back to the hotel.) Susie and I then had a quiet, much needed, relaxing night in the hotel!

On Sunday morning, we found out that at the second stop on the after party circuit, Krissi and Mike realized they were done, and walked down the street to a diner, and ended their night sharing mozzarella sticks and potato skins. Just the two of them! Wish there were pictures of that!

To wrap up this weekend, we helped Krissi get her stuff from the hotel back to their apartment, and then the those of us left, joined in the apartment for a bagel before the families headed back to New Jersey and Maryland!

It was a wonderful week for Susie and I. First with our youngest child, then with Krissi and Mike, then adding son Billy, Lori (daughter #2) and the Grandkids, the rest of Mike’s family, and finally putting them all together with even more of our family, friends, co-workers, and people who were special to our kids, Krissi and Mike. Krissi, has always said she doesn’t like being the center of attention, and she had exactly the kind of wedding she wanted. I asked her Sunday morning if she’d gotten tired of smiling. She said no, she’d been fine. I asked her if she was okay being the center of attention. She said she kind of liked it. She summed it up by saying, “It was the best weekend of my life!”, as well it should have been! It was the wedding of her dreams!

Susie and I couldn’t be happier that Krissi and Mike are together, and we couldn’t have had a better weekend either! Surrounded by your family (by birth, by marriage, even by friendship), having something wonderful to celebrate, and feeling the love! What could be better!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Krissi and Michael Mikowicz, our daughter and son!

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Kristen Anne D’Elia

 

 

 

As a parent, it seems that the years just pass too fast.  You turn around, and that little girl who was just learning to walk, is driving.  Then she’s going to college, and then to graduate school.  Then she’s moving out of her teenage bedroom and into her own apartment.  Then she meets a guy she likes, and the next thing you know, she’s getting married!  Yep, life just flies by!

In just a week, our little Krissi, all grown up and now an administrator at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, will officially change her last name from D’Elia to Mikowicz, as she and Mike tie the knot!  Susie and I are so very proud of what our little girl has made of her life, and thrilled by her choice of Michael Joshua Mikowicz as her life partner!  These are two great kids (excuse me…adults), and we are so happy to have Mike, and the Maryland Mikowicz Family join together with our family!

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Twins Krissi and Kenny and older brother Bill

Krissi is our “middle child”, the two minute older sibling of her twin brother Kenny, and the 4 year younger sister of big brother Bill.  Right from the start, these twins couldn’t have been any more different.  Well, the obvious is, of course, him being a boy and she being a girl, but they were 6 weeks premature, and basically that’s because Krissi wanted to get out and see the world, while Kenny would have been happy to bake a little bit more in Susie.  Because of that, she was out of the NICU in only 18 days, while Kenny needed 28 days to get to 5 pounds.  As they grew up, Kenny was the one more likely to take a risk, while Krissi liked the safer side of the street.  Kenny was also one to cut people off quicker, while Krissi was in for the long hall!

 

As Krissi grew, it became obvious that she cared greatly for people and their welfare.  She was the girl to sign up for a cause!  When her brother Kenny came out to all of us, she was his staunchest defender when kids at high school would give him a hard time.  When you have Krissi on your side, you’ve really got all you need!!

When she went off to college, we were a bit worried about how she’d take being away from her twin brother.  The day we dropped her off at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., I’m not sure who was crying more…our daughter or her Mom!  But quickly we realized we had nothing to worry about.  She made friends (most of which she still has to this day), attacked her studies with passion, and got involved in extracurricular events.  She graduated with dual majors, a ton of friends, and a nice resume of achievements, many having to do with the welfare of Clark students and the residents of Worcester!  Then she came home.

A couple of pictures of the “Original Five” first at Brother Bill’s Wedding and then in Atlantic City!!

 

 

As hard as that was for any college kid, this girl had direction.  She wanted to help people, so she got herself an intern position with the NYC Human Rights Council.  She loved the work, the causes, and the people she worked with, and wondered if this could be a career.  She decided that perhaps getting a Masters of Public Administration degree might be a good first step, so she applied to several graduate schools. She also decided that she needed some money of her own, so she set out to get a job.

Getting accepted to several graduate programs, she decided to go to my Alma Mater, LIU Post, and for money, she got a part-time job at a local cardiologist’s office.  Once school started, she was working several days in NYC, several more at LI Heart near the Mineola Train Station, and traveling nightly from Mineola to Greenvale.   She was one busy young lady!  She originally was hired at LI Heart to digitize medical records, but pretty soon her work ethic brought her to the attention of the folks who ran the place and forced her to make a decision.  They wanted her to work there full-time, but that would mean giving up her internship.  She loved her intern work, but realized that taking the full-time job was the smarter move on her part!  She was great at getting the job done and at customer service, which I always credited on her three summers working at Bed Bath and Beyond. 

Working at LI Heart, she realized that there were many people she could help working in the medical profession, so she tailored her MPA degree more towards Medical than Non-Profit.  The girl had found what she wanted to do, and knew how to get there!  She continued to work at LI Heart, continued to excel in her graduate studies, and continued living at home.  

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Mom, twin brother Kenny, and Dad celebrate with the new MPA

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Her Weill-Cornell Office

Once she got her MPA Degree, she moved to Astoria, but continued working at Long Island Heart and commuted every day from Astoria to Mineola.  They were hot to keep her at LI Heart, but she knew that to really grow, she had to find a position in a bigger organization, and sent out resumes and went to many job interviews, till she was finally offered an entry level position at Weill-Cornell.  Foot in the door, our girl excelled, as usual, and as they say, the rest is history!

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At brother Kenny’s Wedding last October

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Nail Night w/ Dennis

She met Mike through on-line dating, and being the cautious person she is, didn’t saying anything to Mom and Dad for several months.  When she finally spilled the beans, they were well on their way to having a meaningful relationship. Mike joined us one Wednesday for “Nail Night” at the St. James, and after the first night, we were sold on him.  There were more nail nights with Mike, and pretty soon we felt like he was part of the family!  He went to the bathroom one night and I told Krissi, “If you break up with him, we’re keeping him!”  They didn’t and we’re thrilled!

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Their Astoria Roof

So on Saturday, June 15th, Kristen Anne D’Elia and Michael Joshua Mikowicz, on the rooftop of their Astoria Apartment Building, will become one.  It will be a small private ceremony with just parents and siblings, because that’s what they want.  Later in the day, there will be a party for their New York Family and friends at an Astoria Wine Bar.  In July, there will be a gathering at his sister Sara’s house in Maryland for Mike’s Maryland family and friends, and in the fall, there will be another gathering down here at the shore for family and friends.

Susie and I couldn’t be any prouder of these two.  They care about people, they are smart, they are fun, they are financially responsible (Krissi has already paid off her graduate school loans), and they are perfect together!  Mike makes Krissi laugh at herself, take chances, and to be an all around happy person!  I wish she didn’t work as hard and long as she does, but perhaps we can blame that on Bed Bath and Beyond too!  Just like with Susie and me, we think this match was made in heaven, and we could not be happier!!

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To Mike’s Mom Paula and Dad Jerry, his sister Sara and her husband Gabe, and their kids Maddy and Ethan, welcome to the Family…but then I think you know you were part of our family already!  Saturday just makes it legal!

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Cheers to the new Krissi and Michael Mikowicz!!  Mom and I love you both so much and couldn’t be happier!!!  

Three kids, three weddings, I think we’re done!