As I start to compose my new entry, I want to wish all of my friends a blessed and wonderful holiday season – Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all my dear friends. Yes, I’m a bit late posting this (yet again!), as the holiday season was a bit more emotional for me this year. Like Ebenezer, I wanted to take some time to get past all of the memories of Christmas’ past. As most of you know, my beloved Mom passed away this past July, and the holiday was definitely different without our “Matriarch“. The dynamic also changes within a family once the parents are gone. Families within the ranks grow bigger, and the one main “mob screen” of the traditional Italian family gatherings you grew up with disperse to within those groups.
Christmas…., what a wonderful time of year! There is certain “magic” about the time frame from Thanksgiving to Christmas that touches even the hardest of hearts. Amidst all the hustle and bustle lies a wonderful sensitivity. The spirit of Christmas is like a magic wand that makes life a bit softer and more beautiful. It’s the spirit of love, generosity and goodness. It’s not about the gifts, but rather the heart with which it’s given. It’s a time when our souls are truly more interested in people than things. At this time of year, you find people reaching out to others, and including them in their festivities so they won’t be alone. Christmas is about family traditions and baking certain foods and desserts that make lasting memories that keep a family together. The holiday isn’t complete without that certain tradition or baked good that has been passed down through the generations.
Christmas has been very special in my family since I was a little girl. Because we didn’t live near family, growing up my Dad started my family tradition of baked stuffed lobster every Christmas Eve. My brother Charlie and wife Carol took over Christmas Eve the first year they were married back in 1973. (Believe me when I tell you, there is a special place in heaven for my sister-in-law Carol.) That first year in 1973, all of the Reppucci and Schroeder family members jammed themselves into Charlie and Carol’s little apartment. As the years went by and the family grew, my brother’s idea of what the evening should include grew exponentially with it! It was always the greatest extravaganza you could imagine! And the food… Dear Lord we could feed a small country! It was done in the true Italian tradition of the “7 Fishes”, except my family did what seemed like the “70 Fishes” – (the 7 original fishes done 10 ways each!!). And we would cook all night. The dishes just kept pouring out of his kitchen over the bar area onto the dining room table which was set up as a buffet. Outsiders would do whatever they could to “score an invite” to be with the Reppucci’s on Christmas Eve! But the evening was never complete without us all going into Charlie’s family room, where every year he read “The Night Before Christmas”, and we all sang Christmas carols. Believe me, the food and wine were always amazing, but the most special part of the night always took place in that family room!! All of us snuggled in there together, singing at the top of our lungs (and mostly off key)!! I remember one year when Santa made an unexpected visit – and I can still remember the shocked look on young and old alike when Santa walked into the house!! Man, that year was THE BEST!!
So why does this magic end on January 1st when we take down the decorations? It seems to me the world would be a better place if we all kept the “spirit and magic” going all year through? So maybe on this New Year’s Day we can all make a conscious effort to do one good thing per day this year. It can be just a kind word or act – smile and say good morning to a stranger; hold a door for someone behind you; or call someone just to see how they’re doing. Let’s all try not to be so busy doing “things”, and start being busy doing small kindnesses from the heart.
Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is a great year for all, with each day filled with the spirit and magic that only comes from the heart.