We asked readers to share their Christmas memories, and in return they delivered a treasured glimpse into the Italian-American experience. Enjoy these heartwarming stories, and be sure to share your favorite memories in the Facebook post below.
Barbara Falzone The clink clink clink of clams being scrubbed in the sink. The smell of fried shrimp. Beautiful whole lobsters cleaned and baking in a spicy tomato sauce. Aglio e oglio gently purring in the frying pan to make the clam sauce. The tree glowing, music playing, my mom and aunt in their Christmas aprons. My most favorite night of the year. I have such wonderful memories of Christmases past.
Jan Hardy Christmas Eve at my Auntie Marge’s house. It was also my cousin’s birthday. She had a big house on a hill with a huge picture window, we would sit and watch the sky looking for Santa. The next day, we had a huge Christmas dinner. They would slice up salami and add it to the stuffing. Lots of little Italian cookies. So many different things to eat: ham, turkey, garlic pot roast, stuffing, potatoes, lasagna. Loved playing with Christmas toys with my cousins. Loved listening to my Mom and my Auntie gossiping in Italian, It was a happy, loving, magical thing in our family. I miss that with all my heart.
Michael Marotta A gathering of my family, cousins included, at Aunt Nina’s house…and all the chatter in Sicilian. Add to that, the food and wine, and the wonderful smell of a Sicilian kitchen…in Aunt Nina’s cellar/basement.
Marlene Camardo Gathering at my aunt’s house early on Christmas Eve day, with my mom and aunts making spingi’s and sweet ravioli-type goodies. Seven fishes for dinner with tons of goodies. After midnight, my dad’s homemade sausage…Lots of singing, wine drinking and men playing cards. Everyone slept over all over the house. Dinner started with homemade chicken soup followed by pasta, and finally a roast with potatoes, fried gardoni’s, followed by fruit and nuts, and more wine!
Steven Fugarino Christmas Eve that started at 12 p.m. and went until 12 a.m. at my parents house. My mother and aunt ran the kitchen with my dad. Fish for days, pastries and Pavarotti blaring.
Patricia DeStasio Popovitch We would all go to my grandma’s and grandpa’s house where all the aunts, uncles and cousins would gather. There was so much love and laughter in their home, all you had to do was look around to see and feel it. Then we would always go to midnight mass. When we got home, we were allowed to open one present each. Such memories, and I have followed this tradition with my own children and grandchildren. Traditions and knowing those of our parents and grandparents is very important!
Jeannie Baker Witherell Oh we used our very best table settings. Mom was one of 12 children. Our house was the place to be. There were at least 3 cousins my age. 3 my sister’s age etc. The meal came in courses. The antipasto plate was a meal of it’s own (my uncle owned a meat market so you can imagine). When dinner was done, the men would retire to the living room and the women did the dishes, which should of been filmed because it was so much fun and laughter in that kitchen. There was much attention given to papa. Making sure he was comfortable! Oh how I wish I had another day with all of them. Heaven will be fun!
Maria Ungaro Preparing the table the night before with my Grandpa. We would go to the basement, get planks of wood and make a big table. We would put the table cloth down and begin to set. My grandpa’s tradition still continues even though he isn’t around anymore. My son and I do it now.
Melissa Weaver Christmas Day at my great nonnas. I will never forget the smell of the food, the favorite sweets, we little kids sitting in the kitchen with our own special demitasse cups of espresso, and me being the one to use the hand grinder for the next pot. I actually still have and use the grinder. My great nonno smoking his cigars in the living room, all the aunts and uncles and cousins cramped into one tiny house.
Mike Wagle Everything, including the vest and tie. Reminds me of my grandparents house each and every Sunday. Vito (approx. 1886-1976) made one request of his children, including my mother: the families should be together every week.
Here’s to the greatest gifts of 2018: our faith, traditions and time spent with family.
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Editor’s note: ISDA’s “12 Days” run from Dec. 14-Dec. 25 to promote Italian and Italian-American traditions, art, literature, stories and more. Per the Christian calendar, the actual 12 Days of Christmas are celebrated from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.