Not a Christmas tree?

We don't celebrate Christmas. My wife is Hindu and I'm a Deist. We're raising our kids with Hindu traditions but allowing them to find their own path.

When our kids started school we made a pointed decision to teach them about Hindu traditions and customs to help give them a cultural identity. This is important to children especially when they are surrounded by a more dominant culture.

We started celebrating Diwali with Bhavna's family. The Hindu calendar is based on lunar cycles, so Diwali either occurs in October or November of the year. Each year we make Diwali a big deal in our family. We've got Christmas to compete with so we make Diwali a vey big deal.

Since Diwali is colloquially known as the "festival of lights", we decorate our home with Christmas tree lights and small electronic tea lights -- a substitute for the traditional open flame diyas. We clean out our home and prepare delicious foods.

The kids know that Diwali is the time of year for gift giving and receiving. This is the time for wish list.

Despite all that our kids want to feel included in the events going on in the larger culture around them. So, each year we setup and decorate a Christmas tree. It has no religious significance to the kids. They just like the twinkling lights. Over the years they've collected little decorative trinkets to place on the tree. Each one represents some milestone in our lives. The Thomas the Tank Engine phase, the “I made it in school” stage, the Pokémon phase (okay that one never ended), the cute panda and fairy princess phase, etc.

So guess this isn't so much a Christmas tree as much as it's a “down memory lane” tree.

Happy Holidays!

WildFlour Bakery & Café

I discovered the WildFlour Bakery & Cafe via the Princeton Patch. The Patch described is an "artisan bakery and daytime café" and after checking out the web site I decided I would stop in on my drive through Lawrenceville on my way to the office.

My first attempt failed. I assumed that a bakery and café would be open early for the breakfast-before-work crowd. For me that means 7AM. WildFlour doesn't open until 8AM. I waited around outside until 8AM but the door remained closed and locked until 8:10AM. Keep in mind that at 8AM I am already sitting at my desk logged in to a computer and working.

I started to walk away just when someone came out to open the umbrellas for the outdoor seating area. I walked in an inquired about the Brazilian Cheese Puff I had read about on the blog. They were not ready yet and wouldn't be for another 15 minutes. I looked at my watch and left.

I returned the next day and was surprised that the women remembered my face. This time the cheese puffs were ready and I placed my order and downed an espresso as well. I ran back to my car and downed two of the cheese puffs before I got to the office. Tasty.

I returned later in the week to try the lunch menu. The bakery only serves gluten-free products. Bhavana has recently discovered that she has some issues with gluten. I thought that perhaps WildFlour might be a place we could dine together.

That day service was slow and to me it felt like the owners were not very organized. Given my first day experience, perhaps this is just "new business" figuring things out.

Most of the patrons sat outside but I found the traffic noise on 206 too much to bear. I sat inside one of the dining rooms ( there is more room on the second floor ) and chatted with another gentlemen and his wife who were waiting for a take-out order.

I would describe the decor and atmosphere as updated small town country. But it felt a little sterile to me and didn't seem to fit given the look of the outside. Not homey at all.

I had a hunger headache by the time the food arrived, which was about 30 minutes after ordering a mushroom burger. My iced tea was served in a nice drinking jar adding to the county feel. The mushroom wasn't as I hoped and was cold in the middle. The bread crust was too hard and crunchy. The mushroom squished out the sides. I took the bun top off and ate it separately with a fork. My sandwich was served with a side salad. No dressing was offered. My meal plus iced tea was about $16.

All in all a "meh" experience. But hey, I got some cool iPhone photos.