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Of chocolate peanut clusters, Steubenville stuff

Any real, imagined or threatened intent on my part to curb my caloric intake for the first time in 2021 came to a “sweet stop” after a knock on the door last weekend.

Left behind was a belated Christmas gift from a creative friend who pays great attention to detail and desire when it comes to preparing baskets of goodies for people on her ho-ho-ho list.

Lucky for me, I was on that one and not the coal list. Yes!

The first thing that caught my attention, of course, were the gift’s edible components — specifically, my personal favorite, a container of chocolate peanut clusters, a plate of assorted Christmas cookies and a quart of homemade egg nog.

Add to that homemade strawberry jam and pickles.

Apparently, I am living right.

How blessed I am to reside in a household where I am the only one who likes chocolate peanut clusters. I surely don’t need any help in making such sweets disappear — from the container anyway.

They do tend to stick around elsewhere, however, as excess goodies typically translate into excess Janice.

But they’re worth it.

No one but me is really a huge fan of egg nog either, another bonus. With a quart of that, I’m tempted to fetch a decorative Christmas glass to pour it in and drink it from or just grab a straw and enjoy.

The Kiaski household members agreed to arm wrestle over the other edibles.

These treats came as part of what was a themed gift — in this case, the nonfood items all relevant to Steubenville.

The overall “gift basket,” for example, was actually a wooden crate with “Steubenville, O.” stamped on one side.

Inside it were varied odds and ends, including a box from The Hub department store, inside of which was an antique Christmas ornament; a one-quart Spahn’s Sweet Home Dairy Co. milk bottle sporting a Christmas floral arrangement in it; “Memories are Made of This,” Deana Martin’s memoir about her father, the late Dean Martin, born in Steubenville; and an original souvenir book from the 1947 Steubenville Sesquicentennial, which contains 150 years of photos and histories of people and businesses.

Add to that Steubenville made dishes, my favorite the vintage Steubenville Woodfield green leaf pattern luncheon plate and cup.

One look at that and I wanted to put the world on hold and have a tea party with some dainty cucumber sandwiches (with chocolate peanut clusters for dessert.)

Two Herald-Star items came in the crate as well, including a postcard mailed in 1912 with a penny postage stamp. The picture on the front is the building that originally housed the Herald-Star downtown on Fourth Street.

On the front of the postcard, mailed to a woman in Copemish, Mich., the sender wrote “where I spend my leisure time.”

The other newspaper-related item was a Dec. 6, 1927, clipping about Baron von Steuben, a prize essay written by Louis Speziale of Holy Name High School.

The best Christmas gifts are always the ones you never expect yet greatly enjoy, choclate peanut clusters and all.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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