December 21, 2014 by Johanna Burani
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve in my Sicilian family living in Brooklyn, New York in the 1950’s were spent planning, shopping and then preparing the traditional foods for our Christmas holiday meals. The old recipes came out, the adult women were given their assignments and, like magic, carefully executed and wonderfully delicious holiday foods were shared by the 3 generations of our extended family (17 members or more).
La Vigilia, Christmas Eve, opened the festivities. Our individual families assembled at our grandparents’ home after dinner. The adults went to Midnight Mass and the children were put to bed to await Santa. At 1:30 AM, when everyone was back from church and the children (who never closed their eyes) were “awakened,” an enormous platter of cold seafood salad was served with Italian bread, dried fruits and nuts, and fried honeyballs, and Grandpa’s homemade wine.
This was the real deal from our grandparents’ hometown of Sciacca. For the adults, it was sharing traditional foods, for the kids it was observing what family looks and feels like. For everyone it was being connected and wanting to stay that way.
My wish for you, my followers, and for all people, is that you will go to that place in your heart that breeds comfort and acceptance, and that you will share these treasures with others.