Sunday, December 17, 2006

La Mia Famiglia

Picture it, Mama Romano with four martini's under her belt standing in front of the Christmas tree to lead the singing of Adeste Fideles; yes! Oh Come All Ye Faithful -- in Latin! You see Mama spent much of her early life in an orphanage raised by Catholic nuns, and one of the few things she recalls fondly is Latin. She actually understands that dead language and, well, anyway, she loves to show off by singing the old hymns in Latin ... especially when she's had a few nips.

Welcome to the Romano Family Reunion.

You have to understand, I have not seen this many family members all together in one place since the last funeral. Sad but true. So it was nice to see the aunts, uncles and cousins under happier circumstances...my god but everyone looks so old...me too, I suppose.

Outside, a group of the uncles and male cousins stood in the driveway of my sister's house smoking cigars and cigarettes. It looked like a scene from the Sopranos. I walked up and and handshakes and hugs were bestowed upon me.

My Uncle Guido said, "Paxie, how-you-doin'?", and before I could answer he told me all about his latest medical procedure...welcome home.

Inside my sister's house, a ton of food and drink were available; helping myself to some Chianti, I sat with my sister and one of my elderly aunts and caught up...all went well until said aunt asked my sister, "When are you due?" My sister is not pregnant, but is very sensitive about her her weight. I shoved a glass of wine in her hand and pushed her out of harm's way.

Making my way to the relative safety of the den, I stumbled upon most of the uncles watching the Eagles game. Beer's in hand, a look of zombie-like-intensity on all of their faces, I smiled figuring that some things never change. When I was a kid, this scene was the norm at my grandmother's house; all of the men glued to the TV watching a football, baseball or hockey game.

Food was served, and everyone helped themselves. I ended up eating with one of my older cousins and was shocked to find out that he had just turned 62! It just seemed, in my mind's eye, that I would always see him as one of the older, cool guys ... I guess now he is the oldest cool guy.

The singing began around six. Mama Romano led the 12 Days of Christmas and everyone sang along.

Nothing snarky here. I stood amongst these people that I have known my entire life and closed my eyes and for a minute, I was back at my grandmother's row home on Christmas Eve, sitting around the kitchen table watching the hale and hearty family of mine sing dusty old holiday tunes, my aunt pouring drinks and screaming joyfully at the top of her lungs, my cousins and I running rip-shod thorough the narrow halls of the house over come with Pre Christmas excitement...it was such a long time ago.

Then I opened my eyes and saw that they were all still pretty much the same, older, no doubt, but still the same loud, beautiful people that I have known forever.

My family.

La Mia Famiglia.

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