This weekend we had the joy of celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday. Because my husband comes from a large Italian family, this celebration involved family gathered around a table for laughter and pasta and stories of days and people gone by.
We all met at a restaurant in Rockford that is a favorite of large families who are celebrating special occasions—I lost count of the tables and rooms dedicated to special events the night we were out, but most of the space in the restaurant was given up to these events. It was a glorious cacophony of birthdays, anniversaries, retirement parties and assorted other gatherings.
I am so glad that my mother in law generously allows us to share in her special day and celebrate her.
I am so glad that my daughter gets to sit at a table that has three generations of people, one that welcomes the boyfriends of the grandchildren into the family fold without reservation. I am so thankful that my daughter gets to share first hand in the telling of the family stories—getting to know people she never had the privilege of meeting, but learning to love them as one of her own anyway.
I am glad that my daughter sees that birthdays are important; everyone—adult and child alike—deserves special attention on that day which is their own special day. Cake is part of it. And presents in colorful paper. And pictures, lots and lots of pictures. And, if you are lucky, family and friends.
I think that there is tremendous power in family, even when it is spread out across thousands of miles or decades of time. Family gives a person a sense of where she comes from and who she is. When your family connections are strong and your family has your back, you immediately have an advantage when facing whatever the world throws at you.
My daughter learned about one of her great uncles, who when he was a little boy, he was so concerned with getting an order for an Italian pasta right for his mom that, even though he practiced saying it over and over to himself on the way to the local Italian grocers, by the time he got to the grocer, he had it muffed up—ordering a pound of farts instead of a pound of noodles.
Now, not only does my daughter know that everyone makes embarrassing mistakes, she also now knows a choice Sicilian word will probably use it at a particularly apropos moment. She also knows that embarrassing mistakes follow you for a very long time in La Famiglia.
So, Happy Birthday Grandma. Thanks for sharing it with us.
©2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.