Tag Archives: holidays

St. Patrick’s Day

st patricks

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!

Decorating for Christmas

elf quote

My mom was the queen of Christmas decorations.  On the outside of their home, were just three lit wreaths.  One hanging from each of the front bedroom windows.  The tree was in the living room window and she could never have too many lights on it.  From the outside, it was minimal, but as you walked into the house, it was a different story!  Every room on the first floor was decorated.  Most of them were decorations made by her.  If they weren’t, then they were Annalee’s, a stuffed decoration brand that she adored!  Every year she received new ones to add to her collection.  It got to a point that there was nowhere else to sit in the living room!  Nearly every ornament on the tree was made by her.  Most of them were in sets and had to be hung together on the tree. She had a pretty strict rule that ornaments had to be handmade, or have some sort of  meaning to go on the tree Having hundreds and hundreds of ornaments meant we needed a HUGE tree every year.  My dad would pick the fattest tree he could find.  The marks on the living room ceiling prove that they were often too tall for the room.  They would be so heavy, that we would need twine to anchor the tree to the windows to keep it up.  There were many mornings before we learned that little trick, that we’d wake up in the morning to find the tree on the ground!

Cute angels and snowmen hung from the beams between rooms.  Mistletoe and reindeer were in every room.  Christmas cards had their own place but “special ones” would be prominently displayed for everyone to see.  On each step hangs a handmade Christmas stocking.  As we each got married, our spouse’s stocking, (also handmade) was added to the steps, as were stockings for each grandchild.  There weren’t enough stairs so some of us had to share.  The Christmas songs would be playing continuously and she knew the words to all of them!

This year, Linda took a day and decorated it all for my dad.  I know that made him very happy.  The tree we will all do together.  That’s a tradition for us that we wouldn’t miss.  Each ornament has a story and we all have favorites that we like to hang.

At our house, we finally got our outside lights up today.  The kids are out with my dad, so they’ll come back to a surprise as they see the house all lit up.  Drew has been asking us to do it for a few weeks now and with the new porches, I have to admit, it looks almost like a dollhouse all lit up.  I love it!  We haven’t gotten our tree yet.  The only decoration we have up inside is the advent calendar. We are expecting some snow this weekend and it might be nice to be snowed in so that we can get the decorations up!  We have nowhere close to the amount my mom and dad have at their house.  We have some though and like my mom, most of our ornaments mean something to us.  I am sure that my kids are tired of the stories I tell them each year as we unwrap each ornament and where we got them or who they are from but I tell them anyway.  Each of us have our favorites and we hang them up ourselves.  The handmade ones from the kids are priceless and irreplaceable.

This is my favorite time of the year and although it will be bittersweet without mom and Francine this year, our memories of all of the past Christmases with them will be evident as we unwrap each ornament and decoration.

Bittersweet

winnie the pooh

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!