This is what I think of when I think of New Jersey: My extended family crammed into a wood-paneled VFW hall, eating home-cooked food from metal trays kept hot by Sternos. There are a couple of coolers full of beer, and the speakers play Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Journey and, much to my dismay, Bon Jovi. The kids run around and the adults talk about the stuff that’s happened since the last time we were all together or, more often, the things that happened years ago in Paterson.
Everybody asks how work has been. A few people always ask me how Boston is. “About two hours away,” I say. They’re all interested in how long my trip down was, when I’m leaving and when I’m coming back.
Everybody stays too long. Then, when it’s all over, everybody packs it all in, breaking down tables and folding up chairs at expert pace, because we’ve been setting them up and taking them down half a dozen times a year for as long as we can remember.
The leftovers take all week to finish off, and I never eat better.