I believe that a good Italian meal is a band-aid. Consisting of 30 different personalities, my family represents characters ranging all across the board. I am Italian, and that I come from a family who firmly believes that there are no secrets, and that if you can’t be heard, you should just talk louder.
Teamwork is demonstrated on Christmas Eve when the whole family gathers at my great aunt’s house. Beginning days in advance, the women prepare the food. I sit watching in awe, the image of seven Italian women crammed in a small kitchen, heckling and ordering each other around. Then I’m hassled about not knowing how to cook. “Yeah when we’re gone they’ll be eatin’ pizzas for Christmas” Then on Christmas Eve, the array of different fish entrées is spread across a long buffet, and a heaping bowl of steaming macaroni is set on each table. A stampede of hungry Italians swarm the buffet like a heard of hungry lions that have just spotted prey. Throughout the meal, you can hear children shreiking, controversy about the Boston Red Sox, and an occasional “busting of the chops” between the uncles.
I have a very passionate family. If you were to have a conversation with my mom or one of my aunts, you would notice that their voice tends to gradually get louder, their eyes bug out, and their hands start flailing.
I will never forget the feeling of sprinting down my Grammy’s basement stairs only to find her in the same chair, which she has made known, is her chair. Shortly after kisses, hugs and “how was the trip” the badgering begins:
“So Frankie, any boys in the picture yet?”
“And why not…what the hell is that thing in your nose?”
“I got my nose pierced”
Being the glue of our family, my Grammy had the most original personality of anyone I have ever met. I’ll never forget when she died. It was two days before Thanksgiving, so, ironically, all the family was there. Up until the day that she died, her main concern was other people. The first thing my aunt told me was that the whole day of her death, she kept asking “Did you buy Frankie her artichokes?” I refuse to eat anyone’s artichokes now. At her wake I remember my mother’s friend, Wendy, coming up and saying, “I don’t think there’s one person in this room who hasn’t been fed by your Aunt” After the wake, we calculated the number of people who had come to honor her, and it came out to about 1500 people. She once had a job working as a lunch lady in a high school, and got fired because she was giving her favorite kids too much food. Although she is gone, my family carries her on with memories, pictures, and recipes.
I believe that family is one of the only true concrete support systems people are naturally blessed with. No matter what your problem is, there is someone in my family who has either been through the situation and has first hand experience, someone who will just sit down and listen, or someone who will just fix you a big meal and tell you that “Everything is going to be alright…Now eat”
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