Thursday, February 28, 2013

AN EMOTIONAL MONTH

I've always found writing to be cathartic.  However, I've been unable to put pen to paper (as I often write longhand before "translating" the written word to keyboard strokes), for well over a month.  Only recently, have my thoughts which seemed like wisps of vapor before, become concrete words with images I can thoughtfully describe.

I find myself "jumping in," inspired by so many of our friends and patrons who take it upon themselves to plan great programs for the entire community to enjoy.  Take, for example, tonight's Open Mic Night session, where Alex Wolfson's weekly program 3 years ago has just blossomed into a sustainable and enjoyable night of music and artistic talent.  He just shared on our facebook page, that Mike Pfeiffer will host tonight's program, and that Carol Thompson, who has a Grammy-winning album, will make an appearance tonight accompanied by other harpists.  She is an amazing professional musician who has performed other times, but it's always been a surprise.  We have a little advance notice today and we can't wait for tonight!

We've been busy these last few weeks, between planning the Valentine's Day menu and special hotel packages to enhance our guests' experience, to hosting a Fat Tuesday party (with beads and all!!), to now planning our upcoming 150th evening of our weekly Open Mic Night on March 14th!!!  Mark your calendars to be there for this special night...and don't take too long to come back, because on March 17th, we'll have another special St. Patrick's Day celebration planned, including live music featuring the Clan Suibhine Band.  We've also posted an entire roster of nights filled with music on our website, to help you plan your nights out at The National Hotel, all the way through May.  And, we're getting ready to plan our inaugural wine tasting event for our monthly National Wine Club members.  It's going to be a busy time of the year--no hibernating for us!!

Frenchtown has been a busy little town too, even in the middle of all this wintry weather.  Between the winter goodies in town, Pop-Up Stores that have made shopping so much fun, an old-fashioned ice-skating rink right in the local park with the help of the Frenchtown Fire Department, Borough Hall and Mayor Warren Cooper, to even a flash mob on Valentine's Day hitting Bridge Street, it truly is a hidden gem of a town.  Brokaw Photography captured quite a few pictures that are posted on the Frenchtown facebook page, including:

Photo courtesy of Brokaw Photography
This weekend there's even an invitation by the Hunterdon Land Trust, to join them for a hike at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 2nd, at Horseshoe Bend Park, which has more than 300 acres of preserved land with some of the most spectacular views of the Delaware River.  Our little corner of the world just keeps getting more and more beautiful and enjoyable.  There's something for everyone here!

With all this going on, it's a good thing Pete and I closed The National Hotel for only one week in January to paint and renovate the floors of the kitchen and The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. The Rat),

and we took advantage of that time to travel and visit family, a connection that, although sometimes challenging for many, often restores true balance to the soul, helping reinforce the values with which one has grown up, and brings to the forefront just how small daily challenges truly are compared to how good life is.

We returned to our home on the Monday after the horrific and tragic news of the death of Joey Karabin.  The shock is still with me.  The tears that flowed down my face as a mother, followed by the viewing and funeral services we attended, continue to haunt my thoughts.  What that poor family has gone through is not unimaginable.  In fact, in my opinion, it is completely and vibrantly imaginable--their faces are etched in my memory forever.  Their pain, the speechlessness of some of Joey's family members and the kind words of comfort by others in his family (those in the most pain!) to those of us extending our condolences made all of us touched by this, hug our children just a little tighter, just a little longer.  Our oldest daughter, Shiara, who went through a local religious education program with Joey since Kindergarten, was grief-stricken, as were all of her friends and classmates--many of whom knew him and knew his family intimately and were virtually inconsolable.  Shiara's fondest memory of Joey was that he was the first classmate when she started in her middle school, to be nice to her and make her feel welcome there, even though she was the "new kid," the outsider who hadn't attended the same elementary school.

Today, more than 4 weeks after his death, Joey continues to touch our small community.  The fundraisers for his family grow, including:

 


Even his local high school, DVRHS, has created a way to honor his legacy and love of sports through numerous ways to contribute.  And then there are the small acts of kindness by neighbors and friends.  Take, for example, the contributions of food and dinners that were delivered to the family's home by neighbors, the small businesses in Kingwood Township and Frenchtown, that have helped collect funds from their customers, as well as have made donations of their own.  A tree was even planted Hill Landscaping in front of the school as a living memory of Joey.

We gathered our strength and resolve, and as a community raised our spirits in his honor, determined to move forward while not forgetting.  As life would have it, we were dealt another sad blow with the death of a much-loved local bartender, Sarah Majoras from New Hope, within one week of receiving the news about Joey.  Her smile is still an image that will remain with many of us.  Sarah's tragic death along the Delaware River Canal on a cold Saturday night, made headlines in local papers, as the search ensued for days.  The news that her body had been found only brought closure, but did not lessen the sadness that so many felt.

After all this, one's life is never the same.  The overwhelming feeling of impotence in situations such as these is immense.  I give thanks to my family and all the friends in our community, because together, we bear the emotional weight of these recent events.  Listening to my mother and Pete's mother, I always feel that as dark as that moment might feel, they are in fact moments.  Remembering the lives of those we've lost and how they impacted the community and us personally, is one advice these two wonderful mothers have given me, that I will put to good use.  Processing that, knowing that we are not alone and that there is no one who can answer, "Why him?" or "Why did that happen to her?" is powerful.  Our two mothers have lived through so much, dealt with the death of their spouses, through difficult and challenging moments--and yet, they continue to love life, continue to push forward, continue to share their experiences that helps put much into perspective.  They are inspiration personified.

As I thought about these events, I couldn't help but recall so many conversations I've had recently with our patrons about these tragedies.  Each one of these individuals has helped me sort through so many of my feelings.  I can only hope that what I shared with them, also helped them find solace.  I am so grateful to this beautiful community, this gathering space that The National Hotel invites, that inspires us to be even more dedicated.  Pete and I continue to be in awe of the community of friends that The National Hotel has created, independent of us, but so connected to our establishment.  Each day our doors are open, is one more day that the community helps breathe life into this grand old building, whose legacy I'm sure will be felt for generations to come.  Thank you for your continued patronage, and for helping us in so many ways.


We hope you'll join us for dinner, drinks, come for our bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia, Open Mic Night, and/or our weekend musical programs, become a member of our monthly National Wine Club, or prolong your visit and make it an overnight trip.  For information, please continue to leave comments here, email me, visit our website, call us at 908.996.3200, or:

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

Thank you for your continued support and patronage.

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