I do not celebrate Christmas. But, I have Italian heritage in my ancestry, from my mother’s side of the family. They were all Italian, and I have traced my ancestry back to the late 1700s on my maternal side. My maternal side is filled with Italian immigrants who disembarked at Ellis Island, and from there, made their way to New York City, and family members who lived there. Their roots were deep in Italian culture in all of its areas.
This time of year is difficult in many respects. Being brought up in an environment filled with Italians, and in a Jewish environment, I must make various choices.
My mother loved making Italian food, and this time of year would always make baked mostaccioli (photo before being baked, below).
She loved having her family around her, and loved being surrounded by her children, grandchildren, friends, and other people she invited over for dinner. She loved setting a table with her finest china, silverware, napkins, place mats, table cloth, etc. She took pride in everything involved in having a festive and beautiful looking table.
My brother and I would always dip our fingers into the sauce, the cheeses and the mostaccioli, even as older adults. It mattered not.
I am honoring her today, and am making baked mostaccioli. It is prepared and ready to go into the oven. I am Jewish, my mother was not. That makes no difference in the scheme of familial memories and honorifics. We will eat until we say “basta” (enough, content). We will eat and think of you! To you, dear mom, with gratitude and love.