Sunday, December 18, 2011


Is it possible that 2011 is actually coming to an end?  Is it possible that in just 13 days, we'll be saying "good-bye" to a tumultuous year?  It's been a year where locally we shared so many good moments, warm toasty nights in our cellar pub, The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a., The Rat), listening to night after night of great music, where we were entertained by wonderful musicians who perform during our weekly Sunday musical afternoon series, including our most recent performer, Carol Thompson, who played the harp and wowed everyone present, and absolutely got us all into the holiday spirit early in December.  What a treat to know that when she has time, she has even made a surprise appearance during our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, packing in the local residents as well as as our hotel overnight guests.  

And there's so much more in store.  Today there was People's Poetry in The Rat, where local poets and those who like to listen to poetry, came out to support each other and enjoy an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping or weekend catch-up agendas.  Next Friday we'll feature Mike Pfeiffer's monthly theme music nights, where he'll kick off the night after 9 p.m. performing Christmas songs that will help us all unwind and get us in the right frame of mind to welcome in the holidays.  And this will follow (and coincide with) the celebration of Hanukkah, where we'll light the candles and rejoice during these 8 days and Festival of Lights beginning on the even of the 20th.  Our Frenchtown community is always so supportive of our programs and always help us come up with new ideas.  We even started a bi-weekly Friday night dance series, where our wonderful Rathskeller bartender, Donna Jane Sampler, has created terrific dance tracks for all to enjoy.  And don't forget about our bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia too.  That night never disappoints, thanks to Russ Coen and our General Manager, Marlon Aranha's continued dedication to coming up with incredible questions that truly challenge and entertain us.

We hope you'll make the time to enjoy these days with us.  We've even come up with a special Christmas Eve menu for the weekend, where we'll have items such as Seven Fish dinner for two, Lobster Risotto, and more.  Check our menu page for the Additions to the Menu later this week to see the full menu.

2011 has been a year where worldwide events brought us closer to neighbors thousands of miles away; where we learned of the passing of icons such as Steve Jobs, who helped make music more accessible and instantaneously attainable for millions; where we witnessed the attempted assassination of

Photo by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' office via Getty Images
Congresswoman Giffords; where we learned about the last day of Osama Bin Laden's life; where we witnessed in real time the protests in the Middle East and the awakening of the Arab Spring; where we learned that our troops would soon come home (and in fact, early this Sunday morning we saw that the last American convoy left Iraq) and made its way down the highway in what the Army called its last "tactical road march" according to CNN;
Courtesy of CNN

Photo courtesy

where we mourned the death of hundreds that quickly rose to the thousands with so many missing, in Japan after the March tsunami and 8.9-magnitude earthquake; where we saw the suffering through piercing images in the media after the earthquake in Turkey; where our hearts poured out for all of our neighbors in the Southern states that suffered through the devastating tornadoes;

Photo courtesy of
where we celebrated the fairytale marriage of a Prince and a commoner--and couldn't stop watching the ceremony that went off without one hiccup...even the rain held off for the open horse carriage to deliver the newlywed royal couple to Buckingham Palace; and let's not forget, it's the year where thousands of fans of reality TV watched glued to the television the marriage that was to outdo the royal wedding:  Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage that lasted only 72 days.  Will we ever recover?

But as close as we felt to these moments of suffering, of sadness, of joy, of pure comic relief, we also experienced similar moments right here in our own backyard.  Let's not forget that Hunterdon County, NJ and Bucks County, PA suffered through the flooding and loss of power following Hurricane Irene's short visit to the US.  And, in recent memory is the snow and ice storm of October 29th, that in one night forced residents to stay home, make alternate Halloween plans (or cancel them altogether), try to stay warm with the loss of electricity, and forced neighbors out of their homes to take refuge with friends and family.  Many were without power for more than a week.  But from this tragedy, and from that from across the globe, we've seen proof of our capacity to help those around us, we've seen true humanity coming out without asking.

Non-profits from around the world have done what they could to help those most affected.  Those on the ground already in place, have been the most effective, but there are those "random acts of kindness" that I have personally seen that have impressed me more than any other year.  I've seen strangers helping others--I've even seen a New York City parking officer NOT give out a ticket to a taxi driver who had gotten out of his cab to get a street cup of coffee.  He explained what happened & the officer put away the pad and walked on.  Amazing!  Pete and I also saw the creation of a fantastic new park that preserves land forever, right here in our own backyard.  300+ acres were officially preserved this year, abutting 200 acres of preserved open space to the south and 300+ acres of preserved farmland and open space to the north, ensuring green space for generations to come, with some of the best vistas of the Delaware River, nature, and wildlife.  It took years to create, but boy, is it worth it!  Thank you to the people involved with the Hunterdon Land Trust Association for all their hard work.  I've also seen community get together and plan on the best way to create a dog park in Frenchtown, rallying support, raising funds, and motivating neighbors to get involved.

How appropriate to continue to learn of stories like these during this holiday time.  As we approach the holidays, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or other holidays, we wish you much happiness, health, and prosperity, along with much joy during the approaching start of 2012.  As you plan ahead for the month of December, please remember that although the hotel is open for overnight accommodations, the Restaurant & Bar and the Rat are closed on Christmas Day.  Do continue to email us your comments and feedback...they are truly helpful...or just leave a comment on this page.  Stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by:

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You've made such a tremendous difference in our lives, and from all of us at The National Hotel, Pete and I want to extend to you our most sincere wishes for many days of happiness and wonderful experiences that will create many memories for years to come.