I grew up in a very unfortunate home. So the holidays have been a challenge, not because of past trauma but more because I don’t know how to DO it. Never fully got the hang of it. So I keep it simple with a few traditions we really enjoy.
One year a co-worker invited me to Thanksgiving with her family. It was the loudest, largest, and most welcoming Italian family I’ve ever met.
There was an astounding pile of dirty cooking dishes, pots and pans stacked in the sink and on the counters. The table nearly groaned under the weight of the holiday food. Not turkey. Not dressing. Not pumpkin pie.
Instead all fragrant spicy Italian dishes. Course after course after course of traditional family recipes that had been passed down in the family. Three generations surrounded the crowded table. No fancy china or silverware. Instead mismatched colorful plates and serving bowls, every day glassware. Flowers on display in the middle of it all.
I’d never seen anything quite like it.
Music played, not softly, but full volume. An Italian opera of some sort. Lively conversations were accented with expansive vigorous gestures and energetic facial expressions, spoken in half Italian and half English. Delightfully mismatched just like the dishes, neither of which mattered at all.
Laughter, stories, rumors, jokes, tall tales and tattle tales. All openly expressed, even conflicting opinions, at the same time someone else burst into song. Another voice adding to the chorus. Babies were bounced and passed around.
It was a tiny ordinary house crowded with the most robust wholesome family I’d ever encountered. We sat crammed tightly around a sagging table which somehow added to the ambiance. Food wasn’t passed around. Instead everyone reached across the table for a spoonful or scoop. One had to watch for an opening in order to serve yourself. It was never ending red sauce, pasta, sausage, wine, crusty bread and lovely colorful chaos.
I’ll never forget that hard working kind family that invited a single gal from a hard knock life to squeeze into place at a small table with their big family for wildly wonderful Thanksgiving meal.
It was all perfectly abundantly imperfect. I loved it!
What was your favorite Thanksgiving? Do you have some unusual traditions? Please share. Those of us who are holiday impaired need to know