In Pittsburgh, we say pop.
In Pittsburgh, we say yinz, and sweeper, and red up.
In Pittsburgh, we are Pirates, we are Penguins, we are Steelers (whatever those look like.) We are a city of bridges (446 to be exact, and mostly all yellow). We are a gathering place each May for 30,000 crazy runners who dare to run a few miles dahntahn on city streets, or 13.1 miles, or 26.2.
In Pittsburgh, we put fries on deliciously greasy sandwiches and call them Primanti’s.
In Pittsburgh, we bake cookies for weddings, and we shamelessly pile these sugary treats on to the traditional Pittsburgh wedding cookie table. Last night, I arrived home after work, and was To Do-Listing aloud with Ali in preparation for this upcoming weekend, when this last Pittsburgh pastime popped up in conversation. (My brother Ryan and his fiance Emily are set to be married in Pittsburgh this Saturday, May 17!)
“Ali, I have to bake the cookies tonight. What other cookies should I make? I know I’m doing Snickerdoodles,” Silly me. I assumed everyone bakes cookies for weddings.
“What?” Ali is genuinely confused.
Epiphany! In college, people looked at me funny when I said “pop” instead of soda, or when I asked where the “sweeper” was instead of the vacuum. I realized I was getting one of those “dialect differences” looks again now.
“For the wedding…everyone in the family makes cookies. I have to make cookies for the wedding.”
As Ali and I set about breaking eggs, mixing dry ingredients, taste-testing cookie dough (LOTS of cookie dough), I began to ponder all the traditions that I am proud to own, along with the rest of my city. Two hours into the baking and reminiscing process, I quite suddenly felt overwhelmed with love.
My big brother is marrying my childhood best friend in three days, and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. They have been dating since high school, for approximately a decade now. I have helped each of them put together scrapbooks for anniversaries. I have helped them to pick out gifts for each other, and to wrap them. We played kickball together and attended Penn State University together, and eventually, I was with them at their beautiful proposal at Penn State’s Old Main.
While we have been through a lot together, it amazes me how much they have been through in their ten or so years together. They have worked through problems and celebrated birthdays and holidays; a new puppy, a new house, and a New Normal; big moments and small things. They have shown me, through kind words, small gestures, and living their daily lives what love truly is. Ryan and Emily are dedication, learning, and patience. Ryan and Emily are love at its very heart.
I realize now why we keep traditions like the Wedding Cookie Table in Pittsburgh. We solely want to share our love and what we love, whether it’s family recipe cookies or portraits of Pittsburgh bridges on reclaimed pallets. As we baked, Ali and I, we were pouring our love into these cookies to share with the happy couple and with every family that will join us this Saturday.
Here’s to you, Ryan and Emily, and to your continued happy life together for centuries and more to come.
Here’s to all yinz in Pittsburgh, with your pop, Primanti’s, n’at; to your sweepers which help you red up; and to your abundance of love in the form of wedding cookie tables.
Here’s to keeping traditions alive, Pittsburgh, no matter how many crazy looks you may receive for doing so.