To be able to really understand who I am, and the beautiful family that has shaped me into the woman I am, you would need to come by for a Sunday dinner. They are a very big deal and everyone in the family attends: grandparents, cousins, godparents, even dogs. Growing up every Sunday dinner was the whole kit and caboodle. Pasta, meatballs, sausage, pork, mozzarella, manicotti, melon, prosciutto, figs; the whole nine. Sadly, as we have all gotten older and moved away, Sunday dinners don’t happen as often, but for holidays things get even crazier. So in order to understand it, I am going to try to paint a picture for you because I am so excited to return home to my fabulous family and our perfect dinners. Disclaimer: I am lucky enough to share rituals with both sides of my family, which usually take place one day after another so essentially it turns into a two-day feast; here we go!
Sundays always start off with my mom saying “dinner’s at 3, were leaving at 2:45 p.m, be ready.” Without fail, I come back with the question, “why must we leave 15 minutes early when grandma lives a quarter of a mile away?” Well I will tell you, because being late to Sunday dinner is pretty much a cardinal sin. Has never happened, never will. When we arrive, it is a toss-up who will answer, grandma or grandpa, sometimes both. Andrea Boccelli is playing on the surround sound and after grandpa kisses us all hello on the forehead, he continues singing where he left off before we rang. As we walk into the kitchen, grandma resumes her spot at the stove and throws the macaroni in the pot. Grandpa gives us each a taste of his newest cannoli recipe, he’s only on the 679th one at this point, so what’s tasting one more? The recipe may be from Lidia, may be from Emeril; regardless, he saw it on some cooking show and we are all going to try it and give honest feedback because he has been working at this ever since retirement. In the corner of our eye we see grandma lifting the pot of macaroni, bigger and heavier than she is and somehow she manages to bring it to the sink and pour it over the strainer, as all of us watch and get excited that the first course, pasta, is done and it is almost time to eat.
As Joey Tribbiani from Friends says, “Let me explain to you how the human body works. I have to warm my stomach first.” That makes day one a perfect day for stretching. Now this time when my brother, sister and I ring the doorbell we are greeted by Bella, my grandpa’s Yorkie; who I could almost guarantee is the first heir in his will. Grandpa follows behind and we can hear through the locked door “Bella quit hollarin’.” Grandma is about 100 feet back in the kitchen swinging her dish towel in front of the faulty smoke detector that undoubtedly goes off every time the exhaust fan is turned on. We walk in to say hello and as always there is a smorgasbord filling the kitchen counter. It is always at the point where dishes turn into puzzle like pieces so strategically put together so all 23 serving platters can fit in one space and only some, ever-so-slightly are peaking off the marble countertop.
After we nudge each other and fight over who gets the biggest piece of sausage bread, the most black olives out of the salad, the last of the leeks and pancetta, and the biggest meatball, we all settle down around the table and feast on the meal grandma and grandpa spent the last week preparing for. The table is filled with loud conversation, we’ll go around the table poking and prodding to see who we can make fun of for having a new crush, to which you can never win. If you stay silent, you are the next target and if you say too much, oh you are going to get it too. Once we have caught up on what we have missed in each other’s lives, we will begin our descent to the living room to sleep off our food coma.
Although walking into both of my grandparents’ houses is thoroughly predictable, and comical to some extent, it is certainly what I am looking forward to most about being home. I don’t know if my grandparents know how much I love spending time with them, and all of their cooking, but being that they are my biggest fans, I think I owe them some recognition! I couldn’t do it without them and I am so grateful for all that they selflessly do for the huge, beautiful family they have created. So thank you, I love you and I am so looking forward to sitting around your dinner table and making more memories!
Happy Holidays everyone!