What was supposed to be dinner for 25 turned into a smaller crowd. Grammy is still recovering in the hospital and Gigi her caretaker is with her. Dave took DJ back to school so we were a few less at the table. I still cooked the 25 pounds of corned beef and 6 heads of cabbage. There weren’t enough burners on grammy’s stove so the potatoes were prepared at my aunt’s home and brought over.
As always there was more than enough food and dessert and since we can’t forget to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day there were lots of Italian pastries as well.
I took a before photo of the 25 pounds of meat…but no one needs to see a photo of raw meat. Everyone was so hungry, I didn’t get a photo of it when it was all cooked and served!
There aren’t many things more special than gathering with family and creating new memories and reliving old ones each year and tonight was no different.
It was my mom’s favorite holiday. She would cook for everyone and every family member, Jewish, Catholic, Italian, Irish…we had them all, would show up for her corned beef and cabbage dinner. This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent. Although the Catholic Church has offered dispensation, allowing Catholics to eat meat today, we are waiting until Sunday when we my dad and brothers get home from Florida to share our St. Patty’s Day dinner. 25 pounds of corned beef have already been ordered and my cousin, sister and I will head up to my grammy’s to cook that morning.
The photo prompts haven’t all been falling into categories to write about so I have strayed from them a bit but today’s is GREEN and there couldn’t be a better day to share some photos. St. Patrick’s Day in Kindergarten is always an exhausting adventure. Once again, that pesky little leprechaun showed up in our classroom making a mess wherever he went. He comes every year. The magic of Kindergarten is part of the reason I enjoy teaching this grade so much. Yes, it is exhausting and draining sometimes but the look on their faces on days like these make it worth it.
The photos tell the story…
St. Patrick’s Day came a few days late this year. We waited for my aunt and uncle to return from their months long retreat to St. Martin so that we could all celebrate together like always. My mom’s favorite holiday meal has been passed down to me. It is not a hard meal to prepare, it just takes a long time to make. My house is too small for twenty-five guests so I cooked it all at my dad’s today and all of us met there this evening to eat.
Twenty pounds of corned beef, ten pounds of potatoes and three huge heads of cabbage. It took three huge pots and two crock pots to get it all done but it was a success. Irish Soda and rye breads on the side as well made it perfect.
My brother brought the Italian pastries, in honor of St. Joseph’s Day and our cousin Jason brought a cake that read, “Happy Secretaries Day.” It has become his tradition to come with a cake celebrating “the wrong holiday” to our holiday celebrations. Now we all look forward to seeing which one we will celebrate at each meal. Our next big feast is in two weeks when we celebrate Easter. I wonder what that one will say! Since it falls during Passover, I assume it will have to be an ice cream cake. No grains for the Jewish side of the family.
Like I said….”We celebrate it all” in this family. That’s what makes it so much fun.
St. Patrick’s Day has always been a big feast for our family. My maiden name is Gianni, so I don’t sound like I am Irish, but I am….a little bit. My dad is 100% Italian. My mom always called herself a mutt, claiming she was a little bit of everything. I guess that makes me half Italian and half Mutt!!
Even though mom couldn’t do it all by herself for the last few years, at least she was there to guide us along and tell us what to do. Last year St. Patrick’s Day was a tough one. We decided to go ahead with the big dinner last year, even though she had just died, knowing that is what she’d have wanted. I did all of the cooking last year and it turned out pretty well. It was hard to enjoy it though but all being together was the best part of it.
This year, I had to work and cooking 21 pounds of corned beef was going to take a lot longer than I had time for!! As we tried to decide how we were going to get it done this year, Dave volunteered to do the cooking. We went shopping on Saturday and got the corned beef, 20 pounds of potatoes and the cabbage. I cooked the potatoes yesterday, hoping to save time and pots and pans!! This meal uses a lot of them!! This morning, Dave headed up to my dad’s house because it is the only one big enough to hold all of us. Tonight’s dinner was for 20 people.
I got there as soon as I could after school thinking I could help out, but when I got there, everything was done. The corned beefs were just about ready. Cabbage and potatoes were too. I began carving the meat just as everyone began arriving. They brought desserts, wine, beer and soda. Everything was delicious. Dave did a great job. Everyone said so.
Now, the dishes are done, dad’s kitchen is clean and we are all back at our own homes. Tired, full and happy after another really nice St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Thanks Dave! It was awesome!
My mom loved throwing parties. Holidays were always celebrated and they were celebrated in a BIG way. St. Patrick’s Day was always one of her favorites. We like to refer to our extended family as “The United Nations”, because there is a little bit of everything intertwined. Catholics, Jews, Mormons. Irish, Italian, English, Scottish, German…the list goes on and on but on St. Patrick’s Day, to my mom, everyone was Irish. That was her rule. She would cook pounds and pounds of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes and we’d all gather at my parents house to eat. This year, we decided, would be no different. What better way to celebrate her. So today, I went to their house early and started cooking. Since we were preparing nearly 30 POUNDS of corned beef, my cousin Lisa came over with her crock pot so that we could cook it all at once. It was much easier than I expected it to be. Other than needing to be there to make sure the pots didn’t spill over, there was very little to do.
Drew wanted to be a part of the preparation so much. He helped peel and cut the potatoes. He carried chairs up from the basement so there would be places for everyone to sit. He opened the blinds in the family room that have not been opened in awhile. He said it was “so that grandma could look in while we were celebrating”.
Around four o’clock people started arriving. There were 26 for dinner. It was a typical St. Patrick’s Day at mom’s. Neighbors were dropping by all evening to pay their respects and I think they were surprised to see the festivities and laughter and joy that was going on. We told them it was just what she would have wanted. She would want us to go on as normal. We were celebrating her. It was a welcome release from the previous days that were spent dwelling on sadness. We have a lot of emotional days ahead of us. The normalcy of today was a good break for all of us.
We are all going to grieve, and we will do it in our own way, but I know that my mom would have wanted us to be together tonight. It was good for all of us. There is no time line for when we will stop grieving for her. The pain will lessen eventually and for all of us it will be different. Holidays have never been small in our family. Those days are going to be bittersweet from now on. She might not be there physically anymore, but her spirit will live on for all of us. It wouldn’t be a party without her!
One of the benefits of being a teacher and living in the town that I teach in, is that I get to bump into my students and their families quite often around town. My own family laughs because we can rarely go anywhere without seeing someone I know. Being a Kindergarten teacher is a blessing in itself. The joy that these 5 and 6 year olds find in the simplest things, brings a smile to my face on a daily basis. Children teach us how care for the small things, love unconditionally and to simply laugh.
In the weekly journal writing class that I have been taking we have been focusing on vulnerability. The definition of vulnerable is “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally” Many people might think that children are vulnerable, but perhaps the people who really are vulnerable are adults. Children laugh, care and love unconditionally. They are giving, compassionate and empathetic. They are tolerant and unbiased. They want to love and they want to be loved. Simple. Maybe this is why being a Kindergarten Teacher is “my calling”. They all just want to be friends!
Being vulnerable is not a bad thing. After talking and journal writing about it for a few days now, I think it is part of a growing process. Vulnerability is necessary to grow and move on. It is a process of change and learning to accept that you can move forward. I am secure in the way my life is right now….but now that my mom has passed, that life is going to be different. I am vulnerable. I have to learn to live without her. I can’t just call her like I want to tonight, to ask her for her corned beef and cabbage recipe that I will be preparing for 20 people tomorrow. I have to rely on other ways and open myself to new possibilities and opportunities. It will taste just fine. It may not be her recipe, but it will be as close to it as I can get it to be, and perhaps be a new tradition for our family.
That brings me back to teaching in town…
Today, while I was at Target, buying all of the ingredients I needed for tomorrow’s meal, at the exact same time, three of my students and their parents and I all wound up in the same part of the store. I got hugs and enormous smiles and in return, I was able to give them one of the biggest, most genuine smiles I have been able to give all week. When one of them told me, “I missed you! Where were you”? I told them, “My mom was sick”. One of them just smiled and said, “She needed you to take care of her right?” My eyes filled with tears and I was able to reply, “Yes. That is exactly what I was doing”. Perhaps I am breaking through my vulnerability and it is my Kindergarteners who will help me to get there.