Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Twas the Day After Christmas

The day after Christmas is one of my least favorite days. There is so much rushing around to prepare for the holidays, that the day after feels so utterly quiet. I almost don't know what to do with myself. Plus, here in the Chicago burbs, it is cloudy without even one spot of sunshine.

It is too chilly and windy for a walk - and I'm still feeling bloated from too many butter-dipped Christmas crab legs. So, I've been cleaning. Taking empty boxes and bits of Christmas decor down to the basement. I reorganized my closet a bit to make room for new treasures.

Here are a few of my favorite vintage gifts from this Christmas...Thanks to my husband, daughter, mom, sister, and all of those who know my love for retro gems:

My mom-in-law Helen treated me to this 1950s satin cocktail dress that I had been watching on etsy
. Little gold oriental leaves and a very cool sash at the back.

Also on etsy, this 1940s kelly green suit jacket - I feel like I stepped right out of a Cary Grant movie in this one:

From my sister, a repro-bakelite Paris bracelet. Chunky and wonderful - from one of her favorite Chicago boutiques, Hazel. Click here to see Hazel's website.

My mom sent this necklace all the way from Florida - made with vintage baubles.

And my daughter, on a shopping trip to Target (Tar-shay) - spotted this sparrow sweater for me! I love it!

Those are just a few of my Christmas faves. Pictured below is a funky HUGE Santa head that Milt and I snagged at our local antique mall just before Christmas. We love him! Hope Santa treated you well!!! Enjoy these last days of 2012.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Brown Cookies for Christmas

My Grandma Storms passed down a Christmas recipe to me, creatively called "Brown Cookies."

While the name is as plain as can be, these rolled, cut-out, molasses cookies were a delicious and cherished part of our family Christmas. 

They were thin, crispy, and cut into hearts, circles and stars. She would store them in layers separated by wax paper in old metal tins. Their only adornment was one candy red hot in the center. They were brown...and delicious.

My Grandma was a stern, Christian, German woman. Elsie was a single one-room schoolhouse teacher for many years, until she met and married my grandpa, Phil, and had two sons: Neil (my dad) and Ken. They lived in a two-story house in Moline, Illinois, just on the edge of the Mississippi River. 

My grandpa died when I was fairly young, so most of my Christmas memories involve my grandma as a fiercely, independent widow. She orchestrated our pre-dinner rituals like she was teaching a class. Each of us was told to read a verse of Scripture, then my dad would play a carol on the upright piano, and we would sing. She would then serve her Christmas dinner buffet style - and usually (after a moment or two of pondering), Grandma would declare that "This year, the men should go first." 

My favorite part of our celebration came after our dinner of mandarin orange jello salad and baked corn casserole. The women would wash and dry her fiesta ware and clear the table. As coffee bubbled in the percolator, out came the antique looking bingo cards, and we would engage in a rowdy game of take-away bingo.

My grandma would wrap prizes in tin foil, and, somehow, my Uncle Ken always ended up with the onion. A few of us claimed the quarters, and maybe a pack of gum. My Grandma was a stickler for rules, and she would watch us like a hawk to prevent cheating. Then she would pour each grandchild some chocolate milk and mix it halfway with white milk (otherwise, she'd explain it is much too chocolatey).

That was when she'd break out her treasured Brown Cookies.

Grandma Storms' Brown Cookies

Cream: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup spry (margarine or Crisco). Add: 1 cup molasses, 2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tbsp of warm water). 

Sift: 2 cups flour, 1tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp salt.

Add dry ingredients to the first mixture. Add enough additional flour (3-4 cups) to make a stiff dough.

Roll out very thin and cut in shapes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Death and Life and Christmas

The tragic and senseless killing in Connecticut has left the world stunned and devastated. How can things like this happen? How could anyone be so evil? Why can't we stop atrocities like this from happening?

And yet the clock keeps ticking and our advent calendar steadily approaches Christmas. I feel a bit schizophrenic with my mood alternating rapidly between happiness and horror. One moment I am catching a glimpse of holiday lights or humming a beloved Bing Crosby tune, and the next I am entranced by a reporter on Fox News giving details about the shooting victims. I am horrified, and yet I cannot stop watching...

How can happiness and horror coexist?

I keep thinking that things like this should not happen at Christmas.

But, why? They happen all the time. And Christmas does not promise insulation from the world. We have falsely believed that the days leading up to December 25th should be idyllic, a time of escape. It is our fantasy that life should be good and families get along and the perfect gift is waiting under the tree.

But these are man-made notions. The true Christmas story was actually a far cry from these modern ideals.

In Luke's gospel, evil and hope were colliding. Jesus was born in a time of political turmoil. While we traditionally focus on the peaceful and positive aspects of the story - like shepherds and angels - we must also consider the character of King Herod. This was a ruler who had no problem obliterating the lives of others for his own glorification and gain. Historic records tell us Herod was insanely jealous and brutal - even having his own sons killed to prevent any threat to his political reign.

When the King learned of the birth of Jesus - and the divine promise related to this infant - he immediately ordered the slaughtering of the innocents to ensure that his own reign would go on. He was a desperate king and a horrible man, trying to cling to his earthly powers and showing no regard for the lives of others.

From my study of the gospels, I know that Jesus did not come into an idyllic world. He brought life and hope, yes, but he came into a world of loss, pain, suffering. He was rejected, scorned, attacked, and spat upon. The people who at first followed him, then nailed him to a cross, where he was crucified, in a slow and excruciating public death.

The gospel is a paradox. Jesus came to Earth to die. He died to bring hope and to demonstrate that God can and will conquer Evil.

I am sad today - and I will continue to be devastated every time I read or hear another report from Connecticut. And, I should be. The sorrow of our world must not escape us. It should press heavily upon our hearts. We need God today more than ever. Our world is not getting better. Humans need redemption. We need a Savior even more than new laws, safer schools, or better governmental leaders.

In the midst of this sadness, I can and will celebrate Christmas - not just as a day of false hope or denial - but as a reminder that truth and light and hope continue to shine even in the midst of terrible and unrelenting darkness.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thrift Store Find: Vintage Souvenir Glasses

True confessions: I'm a thrift store addict. I love when I stumble on vintage treasures at a great bargain. Last week, my husband and I spotted a collection of souvenir glasses. We took all 24 of them for about 20 cents a piece.

Each glass has a unique restaurant or location printed on it and many of these places no longer exist. A few have great stories.

The state collection glasses are ones that I have seen before - but many of the others are new to me! I loved the little Cypress Gardens shot glass with female water-skiers.

This is one of three Florida Beer glasses, La Tropical Ale, that are from a defunct brewery in Tampa that imported beer from Cuba.

Russell's Silver Bar and Restaurant in Chicago was a mafia hangout in the 1950's. Oh, the stories these glasses could probably tell!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hardrock, Coco, and Joe: A 1960's Christmas Treat

When I was a little girl, in the 1960s, television stations did local children's programming. The result was one-of-a-kind, low-budget creativity - with stop animation and live men taking on characters like Bozo the Clown, Ray Rayner, and Captain Kangaroo.

I always knew it was Christmas when WGN would air my favorite short "cartoons": Suzy Snowflake, Frosty the Snowman, and Hardrock, Coco, and Joe - formally titled The Three Little Dwarfs. I would sit in rapt attention in front of our black-and-white television set, bowl of Cocoa Wheats in hand, and enjoy these holiday classics.

My husband remembers it, too. And, we tried to share the video clipwith my daughter - who was five at the time. She declared it "scary". I guess it is, by today's standards, but the music is catchy - and there is a wry bit of humor that I still find entertaining.

I think I'll grab a bowl of Cocoa Wheats and revert to my childhood!

Here it is:
Hard Rock, Coco, and Joe video

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finding The Perfect Christmas Tree

Every year, we have taken a short drive away from our suburban home to the family-owned Luer's Christmas Tree Farm in Schererville, Indiana. 

My husband grumbles a bit. Why don't we just buy a tree from the Walmart parking lot where they are so nicely displayed, wrapped, and offered at a reasonable price? It would probably be easier, true...

But, there is something magical about wandering through rows of firs, pines, and balsams.

It is peaceful here, and I breathe deeply - the scent of trees is almost heady in the Midwestern winter air. This feels like Christmas to me - no shoppers, no traffic, not even any LED lights. Just simple and pure and honest...just us.

I like how you can look over the horizon and see nothing but trees. If the weather is chilly, you can see puffs of your breath and your toes start to get numb, even with layers of socks and boots. 

My daughter and I wander from tree to tree. "This one is perfect," I'll announce. But, on closer inspection, we realize that it has a giant gaping hole on the back side. 

"No! Over here!" she'll call. And, we'll obediently trudge another 500 feet to gaze at her favorite type of tree. It looks completely like a fuzzy, prickly, ball - with absolutely no space for ornaments.

"We can't buy that type of tree," I argue. "How will we decorate it?"

My husband laughs, wielding his saw, "You, two, do the same thing every year." So we wander and argue - and keep finding just one more tree - a bit further away - until we are at the very outskirts of the tree farm and miles from our car.

We always stop off at the warming hut for a cup of cocoa - even if the temps are sunny and warm.

We see Santa wandering around the trees, looking slightly out of place a midst so much lumber.

We finally pick a tree, the perfect one, and Milt finally gets to do his husbandly job. He saws most of the tree and hands the blade to Sabrina who finishes the job. The tree falls with a satisfying thump.

Shaken and bundled, it is back home, to fight with the rickety stand and the lights and pray it doesn't topple over like it did one year.

Sure, I could buy a fake tree...but I'd miss all the fun!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So thankful

On this night before Thanksgiving, I thought I would take a moment to remember all of the many things for which I am thankful.

And I am....SO thankful.

When I was little, Thanksgiving was a flurry of turkey and mashed potatoes, stressed out female relatives slaving in the kitchen, endless piles of dirty dishes, turkey wishbones, football on the tv, wax pilgrim and Indian candles, crunchy piles of fall leaves, and long car drives to the Quad Cities where my grandparents lived.

This year, our Thanksgiving will be simple. We are going out to dinner, so I have plenty of time to write, and pause, and just say thank you for all the blessings of my life:
  • for afternoon walks with my husband on the new nature trail just blocks from our home.
  • for unexpected vintage treasures, like the two yards of tiki fabric I found at the thrift store today.
  • for my daughter, who is fifteen, sweet and smart, and has not yet tormented me with teenage angst.
  • for a job that I love - teaching and writing at Moody Bible Institute.
  • for my automatic coffee maker that inspires me to put my feet on the ground at 5 am.
  • for rock and roll music that moves and inspires me...for Buddy and Elvis and Patsy and Johnny.
  • for my family, now spread apart in Florida and Oregon and Chicago. We share so many memories and have weathered many storms. I love you all!
  • for our health - praising God for mom's recovery from breast cancer and my mom-in-law's successful stent surgery. thankful for doctors and healing and survival.
  • for my goofy dog,  Buddy, who greets me every morning and stares at me with adoring eyes.
  • for friends who love to shop and dance and eat out and talk about obscure things that only we understand and appreciate.
  • for Door County and its miraculous sunsets and delicious fudge and cherry pie.
  • for God and His Word that speaks to my heart and feed my soul.
  • for the Streetwise vendor who always gave me a smile and is spending this Thanksgiving in a better place.
  • for costumes and creativity and Cheese Days and Acen.
  • for Chicago with its soaring buildings and winding river, glittering storefronts and masses of tourists.
  • for each of readers. You are amazing! I appreciate that you take the time to read what I write and to leave your comments. Thank you!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Magic of Toni Perms

When I was in middle school, in the 1970s, my mom used to give me Toni permanents.

They came in a box just like this and inside was a pamphlet that displayed photos of different hairdos. All of these, it promised could be magically achieved if you rolled your hair a certain way.

I would take the pamphlet to my orange-flowered bedroom with its amazing orange, avocado green and gold shag carpeting and carefully study the photos of the pretty models. My favorite, I remember, was a lady with gently waving curls and a flower tucked behind one ear - very Hawaiian chic. In my mind, I imagined that I was that woman - a flower in my hair - the hit of Wolcott Junior High School.

My mom would lay out all of the necessary supplies and carefully wind each bit of my thick dark brown hair around the spindly pastel colored rollers. Then, she'd squirt each roller with a noxious smelling liquid that would make my head feel icy cold.

And, then, we'd wait. And wait some more.

The bathroom, attached to my parents room on one side and the kitchen on the other, was my incubation room. I would wait as the minutes ticked by slowly and the fumes made me just a bit dizzy. The whole house was soon invaded by that weird plasticky egg smell of permanent wave solution.

I would sit on the toilet stool, carefully wiping the dripping solution off of my face with cotton balls, and study the photo. This time, I thought, I'm going to look amazing....exactly like that Hawaiian lady. Glamorous!

Finally, the kitchen timer would ding, and my mom would return. She would unwrap each soggy roller and toss them into the sink, leaving me light-headed and free with delicate ringlets all over my skinny head.

The trouble was, that every Toni perm turned out exactly the same. It didn't really matter how you rolled the rollers, you were left with extremely tight, frizzy, uncontrollable curls.

My hair trauma continued when I decided it would be a smart idea to cut off my long hair so I could look exactly like Dorothy Hammill of ice-skating fame. She had this amazing bob that would swing out behind her in a an arc when she performed the Hammill Camel. I wanted that hair do.

Armed with another photo (my downfall, you see), I walked to the neighborhood salon, my pocket full of babysitting money, and showed the middle-aged hairdresser my picture. "Well," she muttered. "I don't know. You have a lot of collicks."

The results were not very memorable. But, my hair was definitely shorter.

Looking back, I can't help but laugh at some of my attempts at hair-glamour. After Dorothy, I think my next role model was Toni Tenille (of Captain and Tenille) with her cute, perky, rolled under hair cut. I cringe when I remember trying the shag. In the 80s, I had voluminous spiral permed hair that reached below my shoulders. Now, I'm back to a simple bob - much easier to style when I'm up at 5 am.

For girls of all ages, your hair style is important. Owning your first curling iron or blow dryer is a rite of passage. Whether it is a disaster or not, your hair is a part of the joy and dismay of being a woman. The task is never quite done - the results are never exactly what you want - but it definitely contributes to the way you feel about yourself.

Who were your hair inspirations?


Monday, November 12, 2012

What Rob and Laura Taught Me About Marriage

The media often gets a bad rap. They are accused of setting bad examples, pushing boundaries and showcasing infidelity. And, it’s true. Watching shows like The Bachelor or Desperate Housewives probably isn’t the best advice for those who are seeking a permanent and stable relationship.

But, I have seen good examples of love and marriage on television. As I look at my own marriage of 20 years, I can see how some television and movie examples often ring true and highlight the best (and worst) aspects of love.

1) The dashing hero doesn't often make the best husband. In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett seems destined to be with Rhett Butler. He is strong, outspoken, impetuous, and pops randomly in and out of her life. While they have lots of sizzle, their marriage is a disaster. Contrast the Butlers with the more ho-hum relationship of Ashleigh and Melanie. Boring? Maybe. Stable? Definitely. Ashleigh and Melanie are loving and devoted to one another in a quiet, consistent way.

2) Couples who laugh together, stay together. Many of the tv couples I most enjoy are funny. Lucy and Ricky. Rob and Laura Petrie. Ray and Deb Romano. Laughter is the heart of a relationship - if you are tickled by his sense of humor, it will help you out of many arguments. If she makes you laugh, you will have a hard time staying upset. Even when I watch Lucy create a huge mess and try to cover it up, I know that Ricky will not be able to stay angry with his goofy and loving wife.

3) Patience is a beautiful and redemptive part of marriage. One of my favorite love-story movies is 50 First Dates. Although humorous, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore play a couple who are struggling with a major setback – she has no long term memory. In order to stay married, Sandler’s character must work every day to win the heart of his wife. It takes amazing patience and dedication to wake up each day and realize you must re-win the trust of the person you love. The ending scene, with the couple and their child, makes me realize how marriage takes work. And, that true love is patient and kind.

4) Hard work, even adversity, increases the bond between a husband and wife. No one said marriage was going to be easy, but trials do have a way of bringing people closer together. Consider Charles and Caroline Ingalls in Little House in the Prairie. Based on a true story, this television couple reflected the real-life drama of pioneer couples who faced illness, rugged climates, lack of supplies, medical emergencies, and solitude. They were forced to do everything together. There is a scene where they are building their first home, and Caroline is forced to help Charles lift the heavy timbers into place. He hates to have her help, but he needs her. Perhaps working together shows us how much we need one another.

5) Real relationships don’t happen in a few weeks. I must admit that shows like The Bachelor can be a guilty pleasure. I love watching couples meet and “fall in love.” Yet, I know that it is not really love. It is infatuation, at best, or lust, at worst. Relationships set on tropical islands and hot tubs are destined to failure. They are rushed to pick out rings, hurried toward commitment. Their love has not been tested. They do not really know one another. It is usually only a month or two “after the final rose” that the relationships begin to splinter and the tabloids report that the couple is no longer together. Love takes time. It must grow until people become real – thorns and all – and face their difficulties. Ask any couple who has reached a milestone anniversary...they didn't get there easily.

6) All couples fight, but keep your fights clean. Bad fighting leads to divorce. I think it is impossible to be married without fighting. Once in a while, I meet couples who say they never fight. I don’t really believe them. But, I have seen fighting get ugly – and it always leads downhill. For a bit, I was a regular viewr of The King of Queens. It happened to come on exactly when my night was winding down. I also loved the show because, like Doug and Carrie, I have my in-law living in the same house. However, the episode that I am thinking of is when Doug and Carrie begin to tape record their fights. In an effort to get help, they talk to a neighbor who is a professional counselor. He notices that their fights often degenerate into personal attacks and name calling. What I learned? Don’t attack your husband or wife. It is very, very bad. Work hard to walk away, cool off, and keep arguments under control.

7) Enjoy, even celebrate, one another’s quirks. I think of Cliff and Claire Huxtable of the 80s Cosby Show. Cliff had a passion for hoagie sandwiches and tried to fix plumbing problems – much to his wife’s chagrin. But, she adored that side of him and was quick to let him know. What if Desi didn’t appreciate Lucy’s wacky side? While all quirks get annoying, we must remember that these are often the very reasons we feel in love.

8) Don’t keep secrets or lead separate lives. In one episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura has a secret checking account. When Rob finds out, he begins to suspect all kinds of wrong doing. The innocent secret balloons into something much more problematic. Although it is tempting to keep some things to yourself. Secrets can have a destructive effect on marriage. Many of my modern day friends have separate checking accounts and take separate vacations. They may not share even one mutual hobby or activity. That is a recipe for disaster. Another King of Queen’s episode featured Doug and Carrie going their separate ways for movies and restaurants. The problem is that this grows a division between you. Do things together…remember that separate lives and separate beds were all-but eliminated by Mike and Carol Brady.

Real life, real marriage is not a 30-minute tv sitcom. It is not even a two-hour chick flick. A part of the difficulty is that real couples are more complex and multi-dimensional than the characters we love on screen. True love is definitely not always easy. Sometimes we forget to laugh and enjoy one another.
Maybe that's why we enjoy these couples. They give us hope. They make us smile. They show us examples of what to do...and what to avoid. They make us laugh at ourselves and realize that, despite it's troubles, marriage can be fun.
I think we can learn a thing or two from these fictional depictions of love.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween 1940s Style

Happy Halloween!

This weekend, at the last minute, my husband and I decided to visit the Willowbrook Ballroom. They were having a Halloween Swing Dance with full orchestra. I love the Willowbrook, in Willow Springs, Illinois, with its enormous wooden dance floor and hundreds of tables, so always a place to sit. It opened in 1921, and I think people have been dancing and dining there every since. At these events, they have swing dance lessons for the first hour, and then a band and dj for the rest. Such a lovely night...

We enjoyed snapping a few pics of our favorite costumes. Milt was the Invisible Man (from the H.G. Wells novel and then the late 1930s film adaptation) and I was an old-timey Cigarette Girl (with candy sticks of course). The nice part of our costumes was that we were able to wear our vintage. I am wearing the first vintage dress that I ever bought - a red embroidered dress (that I shortened) from the 1940s. I also have 1940s dance shoes on and vintage rhinestone jewelry. Milt has a vintage sportcoat, fedora, and tie. I made my hat and cigarette box to match old movie photos.

One man asked me how much it was for a pack. I told him they were free and offered him one. He handed them back in disgust, "They aren't real." I said, "Of course not. Why? Do you smoke?" "No!" he said, looked perturbed, and walked away. Not sure I understood that interaction.

Halloween is my husband's favorite holiday because he can come up with creative ideas and wear costumes in public. He loves to dress up as various characters. This time, he walked away with a prize! I am not as fond of costume parties as my husband, but I do have fond memories of this holiday as a child.

My grandma, who we called "Honey", was a wonderful seamstress, so she would make all of my costumes. Halloween still reminds me of those chilly nights, the exhilirating freedom of being outside and loose at that hour, stuffing pillowcases full of chocolate candy bars, running through the darkened streets, avoiding houses with creepy displays, and laughing with my friends.

As an adult, I had a magical, time-travelling sort of night, complete with vintage attire, creative costumes, big band music, and a lovely historic venue.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What Gilmore Girls Taught Me About True Community

If you have never watched Gilmore Girls or Bunheads, television series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, then this post is not for you. Actually, you must go directly to your television and watch an episode or two or are missing out on one of life's treats.

I adore both of these shows for their fast-talking, witty, wacky, and memorable characters - in fact, I love them so much that I sometimes dream of what it would be like to actually live in Stars Hollow or Paradise. Life is simpler there, more charming, less chaotic, friendlier...I could walk to work!

It occurred to me that the reason I love Amy's depiction of small-town life is that she is portraying a beautiful image of "community."

For most of us the word "community" has lost its charm. Some of our towns have "community centers" where they hold zumba classes or computer skills for seniors. We like to land on the "community chest" in Monopoloy, although it has no real connection with our every day life. We are told, in Christian circles, that "community" is a value to hold dear, but (for me) I have rarely seen it played out as beautifully as it has been in Amy Sherman-Palladino's made-for-tv towns.

Here are a few things Ms. Palladino has taught me about this highly desirable and rarely discovered value:

1. It is an idealized notion. Notice that both of the town names, Stars Hollow and Paradise, are imaginative and ethereal. They hint at a heavenly notion of what "community" could look like. They are a dream of a small town where everybody is cool, nobody is bored, and people care deeply about one another.They are small without being stagnant. They are not real - but are what we wish a community could be.

2. Her communities are made up of quirky individuals. One thing that I most love about these shows is that the characters are carefully designed to be delightfully abnormal. In Gilmore Girls, you have a diner-owner who is literally stuck in the past and a dance-studio teacher who used to be a show girl. You have an obsessive-compulsive town councilman and a wacky neighbor obsessed with cats. Rory's best friend, Paris, is an extremely driven, compulsive, over-achiever.

But, my best example, the running joke in the show, is the character of Kirk. He is consumed by night terrors, a political wannabe, scared to leave his mom, and annoyingly intrusive. Yet, instead of making these odd people repulsive, Amy weaves them together and makes each one important to the whole.

When Scripture talks about the church as a "community", it reminds us that we are called to be one body - but we are not each the same part of that body. The eye, for example, is not the foot. Amy seems to agree. Kirk is needed, but he does not play the same part as Rory, or Luke. Each is important.

3. They have cross-generational conversations. One of the weaknesses of our present-day notion of community is that we divide everybody into groups according to age. We have women's groups, senior's groups, children's church, a high school group. In Stars Hollow and Paradise, the adults interact with the teens and play into their lives. The older generation is constantly challenged by their younger neighbors. We need this! It is good to get together - to inform one another, even when it is difficult and we don't see eye to eye.

4. They fight and forgive. These characters do not always get along. There are fights that explode in a moment - like the ongoing struggles between Luke and Taylor. Or, they are fights that extend for weeks and months, like the painful division between Rory and Lorelai. In Bunheads, I love how Michelle and Fanny - both of distinctly different generations - duke it out over issues of how to divide the inherited property and how to run the dance studio. One key aspect is that for every fight, there is the possibility of forgiveness. Characters have hard conversations, resolve their differences, and still love one another. Community does not mean that we always get along...we just know how to forgive.

5. They value their elders, history and traditions. Whenever someone in Stars Hollow dies or is near death, the whole town comes out to pay tribute. One man, who threatened to die every year, would invite the community to line up and say their "final" goodbyes. The older generation is not dismissed in these communities, it is cherished. Tradition is integral to the plot line. They hold traditional town meetings and attend annual festivals. They celebrate their historical heritage. They don't forget where they came from - they listen to the stories of those who have gone before them.

 6. They stick together and help one another. We live in an increasingly individualistic society. This fights against any hope of community. We often do not know our neighbors. I remember, on an evening walk, being surprised when an older man on a nearby block asked my husband to help him start his lawn mower.We have withdrawn from this old-fashioned notion that your neighbors are community. In Gilmore Girls, when Kirk needs a place to live the whole town rallies around and takes turn sheltering him. In Bunheads, when Sasha is in trouble and is losing her way, Michelle goes out of her way to find her and draw her back into the community.

7. They celebrate together. In the final episode of Gilmore Girls, they throw an enormous party for Rory's farewell and rain threatens to destroy the celebration. Led by Luke, the town literally sews a tent together to shelter the residents of Stars Hollow. This highly improbably act of joining together is a beautiful one. They are a true community, woven together, celebrating their quirks.

No wonder I want to move to Stars Hollow!