Untraditional Traditions

My friend Anna is getting married next month, after years of swearing up and down that she was never, ever going to get hitched. Her first date with her fiancee lasted three days, and their second spanned the length of a work week. After that, he just moved in.

For this untraditional bride, nothing was more appropriate than the atypical shower her friend Renee threw for her yesterday. I got the invitation several weeks ago, with the location listed as the Paradise Restaurant, at Front and Girard. I was curious about this venue, until I remembered that Anna had told me that there was a diner near her house that they ate at all the time. Anna and Dave are currently remodeling their kitchen, and so trips to the Paradise are an almost daily occurrence, although Anna’s been a regular there since before Dave appeared on the scene. The owner Penny, and the rest of the restaurant staff treat Anna like an adopted sister or cousin, and were all shower guests, as well as hosts, yesterday afternoon. We played games, although not your standard shower activities. We all told Anna two truths and a lie about ourselves, and she had to guess which was the lie. The lies belonging to her Paradise family were the only ones she guessed correctly.

It started me thinking about the relationship my family used to have with the Little Pete’s that was on Chestnut Street, and closed last summer. In the last ten years of their lives, my grandparents ate there almost every night. Those evenings that they chose to stay home, they ordered in. The waitresses all knew my grandmother, and always greeted her with kisses and an iced tea. They would caress her cheek after depositing her chicken soup, and help her order when she couldn’t make up her mind. When she died, they cried and catered her memorial service.

Six months after her death and a year and a half after my grandfather had left us, we held a family brunch in the rear section of the restaurant, to gather and remember them. My cousins from Hawaii were in town that morning, and danced hula in the middle of the restaurant, while the whole room looked on. Whenever I was feeling sick, or just a little neglected, I would go into Little Pete’s for soup. I would be greeted with shouts of welcome, and would get admonitions to take care of myself and come in more often, along with my noodles and broth.

To take a look at the pictures of Anna’s shower, go here.

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