10 Moments of Celebration That Formed The Bacon & Lox Society

Over the past 10 years, the spirit of the Bacon & Lox Society has created a platform and space where open-hearted makers find rejuvenation and reflection, where they commune with creativity, and — most importantly — where they find connection. Every participant brings something unique to our table, and when people generously share their talents and stories, we grow and evolve as a community. As we mark 10 years of embracing this largeness of spirit, inviting others into our once-private celebrations and gatherings around a shared table, we want to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate 10 of the most pivotal moments that have helped to shape who we are:

1.The Delaware River Food + Wine Festival

The Bacon & Lox Society is a community of makers and creatives that cropped up following the launch of the Delaware River Food + Wine Festival back in 2008. Created by Alisa Tongg, this festival featured 12 unique boutique events, over four days, with the singular purpose of helping to identify and celebrate local treasures and personalities in the communities flanking the upper Delaware River region.

After the festival, Alisa continued organizing special culinary excursions in the awe-inspiring natural landscapes of the region — like a Morel Hunt with author Bill Russell, followed by foraged lunch in the woods — and has continued to work on expanding a network in which local creatives can collaborate and support each others’ initiatives.

Make: Local

2. Chanukah/Christmas, Passover/Easter

By the following year, Alisa and Heather had started a new tradition of sharing their family holidays. Chanukah would be spent at Heather’s, where we would light Menorah candles, spin dreidels, and stuff our faces with latkes…while everyone next gathered at Alisa’s for a Christmas Tree trimming party with special ornaments, mocktails, gingerbread houses, and caroling. Our participation in the inclusivity and willingness to share the underlying meaning behind our family rituals with others would lay the groundwork for every future gathering.

Just like the winter holidays, we celebrated spring and renewal by asking the four questions at Heather’s Seder table with her beautifully designed Haggadah, followed a few days later with a brunch and egg hunt for the children at Alisa’s place. A little bit of welcomed crossover occurred one year, when Heather arrived having made carrot latkes! Last year’s “On the Third Day of Kalbi” was a delightful alternative to heritage ham.

Make: New Traditions

3. International Children’s Day

Growing up in Hawaii, Alisa used to look forward to Girls Day (March 3rd), a Japanese holiday also commonly observed in the Aloha State. Girls would get to go through the lunch line first, and then at the end of the day the boys would help put all the chairs up on the desks. Oh, and there was mochi, too. Lots and lots of mochi to eat. Then on Boys Day (May 5th), it was the boys’ turn to go to the front of the lunch line, the girls handling classroom cleanup at the day’s end. We would watch in wonder at the beautiful koi flags hoisted onto every flagpole across the islands.

This is the first BLS gathering that did not have any religious roots, but instead tried simply to recreate a magical childhood cultural memory, passing it on to those that would come along after us. Children gathered at Alisa’s to make gyotaku prints of fish, hoist koi flags, fly airplanes made of paper and wood, and of course…eat lots and lots of specialty mochi.

Make: Reimagine Old Traditions

4. Alisa Starts Her Celebrant Practice

In the spring of 2012, Alisa finished her training as a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant, and was ordained as a minister. When it came time to form her own congregation, she looked to her treasured friendship with Heather Arak, and their practice of bringing their families together to share their holiday traditions. Inspired by the generosity of spirit cultivated through these special gatherings, Alisa formally and retroactively named her celebration congregation The Bacon & Lox Society.

Make: A Celebration Congregation

5. Birthdays!

As a celebration congregation, the Bacon & Lox Society takes birthdays very seriously. There was the all-white lawn bowling party…the rock-throwing party…the art party…the Bollywood Birthday and the Breakdance Party…the Tween Old Lady party…and, of course, the Dreams Come True Live Band Karaoke Birthday Tribute Concert (with surprise gospel choir making an appearance for the final song). Young and old, birthdays present us with the opportunity to celebrate a particular moment in time with flair and good cheer, all while reinforcing friendships and taking stock of our blessings.

Make: Dreams Come True

6. Thanksgivukah

Out of all the ways we’ve gathered for Thanksgiving, the one that will always have the most special place in our hearts was the year when Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlapped — giving us our first (and only) Thanksgivukah. With over 20 people gathered, we lit two menorahs, baked gratitude rolls, the children competed in an obstacle course, and of course (carpe diem!) we all stacked up a bunch of crispy latkes and doused them in miso turkey gravy. Out of all the holidays to mash up, these two were perfectly suited to one another…but sadly, they’ll never overlap again.

Make: Holiday Mash-Ups

7. Full Circle Meal (aka the “creek Dinner”)

We started a new tradition in the summer of 2016, when we held our first Full Circle Meal, a gathering of creatives, all having dinner in a creek. The invitation prompted each participant to “bring something to share,” and what unfolded was an idyllic and deeply transformative experience for everyone who was able to join us at the table. The following year, our communal table doubled in length and we reaped the rewards of having twice as many collaborators sharing their special talents to make the experience possible. The tenets of “community over competition,” creative soul mates, and kismet have always attracted the right tribe or this event’s vibe.

Make: Community


8. Chinese-Ish New Year

By calling our celebration the “Chinese-ish New Year,” we gave ourselves the creative freedom to pull together our favorite parts of the Lunar New Year festivities, without being forced to include the ones that didn’t quite speak to us. It also makes room for us to put our own spin on things (including adding a few elements that aren’t even Chinese at all!). In the Year of the Rooster, we brought together just about 30 people for macaron painting lessons, a Christmas tree bonfire for release, a shower of blessings for the new year, and of course, for our feast…a meaningful menu, layered in symbolism.

Make: Meaningful Menus

9. The Ice Dinner

Having a dinner party directly on the ice in the dead of winter was initially inspired by seeing a group of men ice fishing on the Delaware River in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area. On a clear day in the middle of winter, the BLS hosted our first-ever dinner set up directly on the frozen ice of Lake Wallenpaupak, with the intent to celebrate the uniquely stark beauty of winter, and to teach ourselves that to thrive during difficult times we must gather close and share our resources.

Make: Warmth

10. BLS on the Road: A Mobile Community

We’re pleased as punch to welcome and support Instagram’s Jeffrey Gerson and his efforts to bring new life into a historic Pocono Mountains residence, giving back to his own hometown community. La Anna Guest House is a soon-to-be creative retreat that will function as a guesthouse and very special event space with an “artists in residency” program. Check out their Kickstarter for opportunities to get involved!

Make: Intersectional Gatherings

As we reorient and renew our efforts at bringing together friends and making them into family through artful gatherings around a shared table, we look forward to all the reasons that will present themselves for us to gather and to celebrate in the future. We’re excited to meet new artists, learn new recipes, and be inspired by new stories and contributions. We look forward to connecting more with nature — look for even more pop-ups in inspiring natural environments (like this past Easter’s pop-up picnic and egg hunt in the national park).

The world needs more safe, creative, and uplifting communities whose purpose is to remind us of our shared humanity. We are humbled and honored to be in a position from which we can help others expand their communities, too. There are no observers at Bacon & Lox Society experiences: every participant contributes something to make the magic and the kismet of the gathering possible, and we look forward to all the friends we have yet to meet.

Cheers to another 10 years!