Family Mary

Thanksgiving at the House of Crazy Italians (and others)

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart. – Cesar Chavez

The holidays are upon us and it started with Thanksgiving…….my favorite day.images

Every Thanksgiving, since I was married to my first husband, has been my event.
It started out as a modest affair. The first one I hosted, I struggled with which vegetable to make. Since I liked Brussel Sprouts, that’s what I chose. My in-laws came, five in all, my son, my parents, my husband and myself. Ten people in my somewhat small apartment. The only saving grace was that I had a very large dining room and I was able to fit everyone in with the help of a card table and chairs.

For years we called that day my “Brussel Sprout Fiasco” because for the ten people, I bought one pint per person and cut them in half. Do you have any idea how many half sprouts I had? I had so many sprouts, I couldn’t look at another one for a few years.

I got up a dozen times that night so that I could flip my marinating vegetables. They were such a hit they were gone in five minutes. So much for all of my late night action.

My husband at the time was a police officer and almost always had to work at some point on each holiday. That first one together he had a very eventful day but some of it was very sad so eating was a little difficult for him. I tried not to take it personally but I was very young.  Anyway, ever since then, I have been the Thanksgiving host. It is my favorite holiday because no gifts are exchanged. All the fun of the holidays without all of the stress of gifts.Turkey

As our family grew, so did the guest list. All of the little kids are now in relationships, some even have kids of their own and every now and then, a stray parent of one of the better halves will join us. This year my son’s best friend and his family also joined us and I hope they come next year as well. I discovered that with a little planning, organizing and pre-turkey day cooking, everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

The last few years, just before the holiday itself, I go into what can only be called “panic mode” and I tell everyone that I am not doing this again and some other, younger person should take over.

Then it happens…

The whole family offers a collective “NO” and I end up having it at my house anyway.

IMG_2001-700x466My house is very small. For those of you who know Chicago, it is a Schorsch home. A neighborhood full of small, single family homes. Plus, I have no dining room so to accommodate everyone, years ago I got rid of my living room furniture and turned the front room into a dining room. Still, we had to put people in the kitchen and the basement.  One of the really odd and funny things is that we use the back door, never the front, and everyone congregates in my tiny kitchen to drink and kiss and talk.  Several times throughout the day I have to yell at everyone to get out of the kitchen.  That doesn’t last long.  Soon they are all back and under-foot. Did I mention that I have two big Labs and a small lap dog, also under foot? My husband deep fries one of the three turkeys and starts a fire in the pit. The young ones stand outside with hot spiked drinks (I passed them a new bottle of schnapps and never saw it again…hummm) and shoot the breeze. The kids run around and a great time is had by all.

We make all kinds of allowances just to be together. I am grateful for my husband’s big Italian family and how they welcomed me and my son and now his wife and children. They are a huge help to me on that day as well as the day before and after.

We have started a new tradition. This year and hopefully every year to come (as long as I am able) I will make an afghan and we raffle it off to anyone that has not received one to date. That should keep me plenty busy since we seem to be adding people yearly.

Thank you my big Italian family and all the friends that help us celebrate. We kick off the holidays in a wondrous way and I love it.


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