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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

LONG AGO


In the early years of marriage and right up to 1990, Dad's last year alive for Christmas, we spent Christmas Eve in my parent's basement enjoying a seven-course fish dinner, the tradition handed down by Grandma, Dad's mother. The dinner table seated about 25 and was a pool table covered with two 4' x 8' plywood boards to protect the table top.

For me the best night of the year was Christmas Eve, all the siblings, aunts and uncles and friends would start arriving around 3:30 PM, smelling the cooking and having drinks with animated conversations. Dinner was never before 6:30 and while we all gathered and drank, chatting to our heart's content, we could smell the rich aroma of the lobster sauce that would eventually cover a plate of spaghetti.

Dad had a small bar in the corner of the finished basement, and all the men would hang out there, baseball, football, and even politics dissected to the finest points possible. Scotch accompanied the Yule-Tide and Mom's homemade Italian cookies with almonds and anisette, both before and after dinner.

Mom had all the traditional dishes made, the octopus, calamari, squid, eels, and crabs, shrimps and mussels and of course, lobster all cooked to perfection and ready to be consumed.

But the most important part of the holiday was Dad. It was his holiday and he loved it. The tradition was only half of it, there was another more important component to the evening that had Dad's attention, and embodied his spirit: grandchildren.

Dad would sit enjoying his dinner, and watch his family, enjoying seeing his grandchildren all gathered around this magnificent table, applauding Grandma's cooking as they sat there.

Recently TLW (The Little Woman) and I spent an early Christmas with #1 and #2 sons in Burbank, California with my lovely daughter-in-law and my gorgeous granddaughter. One evening we opened presents and had a ball, watching the little princess open her and everyone else's presents to boot. Suddenly, as I watched, I realized the sensation that Dad had, overcoming with joy and pride in his family, so had I.

If I ever miss my Dad, it is Christmas Eve, in his plaid shirt and workpants, getting kidded good-naturedly, and handing it back in kind, he was the embodiment of the spirit of the times.

Buon Natale, Mamma e Papa!

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