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We were given the gift of snow over the Christmas holiday. First with a white Christmas and then with about two feet of snow in total. It allowed for lots of playing in the snow by all and some beautiful scenery for those who prefer to view their snow from the warmth of the wood stove. We had the opportunity to visit with some family (my sister and her family were not feeling well so we didn’t get to see them). We had my dear friend from college and her family come to stay with us and we celebrated two birthdays — my mom’s birthday and my friend Ellen’s son Tom’s birthday.
We had our annual New Year’s Eve party where lots of dear friends and family gathered to celebrate the beginning of another year. Lots of fun was had by all. I know that we had a good time hosting and enjoyed the time with everyone.
My brother made a couple trays of antipasto for the party. We haven’t had antipasto in the T’s house since my dad passed away. It was “his” thing and well it just didn’t seem right having it without him. After 11 years, I finally have come to terms with that and the “tradition” has returned. Bill put together one very nice looking antipasto — Daddy would have been proud! Here are the shots as it was being created.
Warmest wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May you and your families be blessed with good things.
Antipasto. We used to have it at every holiday meal. A large (or maybe two) tray of a variety of meats, cheeses, peppers, lettuce and tomatoes that, as its name translates was served “before the meal”. Its origins are Italian but my dad, who enjoyed antipasto probably more than the meal itself, wasn’t. Irish as the inside of the Blarney Stone, although he had a smattering of mutt thrown in for good measure. I think he married into antipasto since my mom’s parents were both Italian and the holidays were clearly excuses to eat…a lot…especially of the things you only had but once or twice a year.
I can clearly remember the large glass trays that we used and the preparation. I bet every family has their own version. First, the layer of lettuce, then the layer of sliced tomato, then the layers of cheeses, provolone, some prosciutto, cappicola, some genoa salami, a sprinkling of pepperoncini, some cherry peppers, olives. There were additions but usually no deletions. The tray was piled high and hardly any of it was left over when the first course was through.We wouldn’t think of a holiday without it — I think my dad would have cried. I personally think it was his favorite part.
This afternoon, I was making up a shopping list for our Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing big — just our family and my sister and her family – as low stress and casual as Thanksgiving can get. I asked Tom who was sitting nearby if I was forgetting anything from the list and threw out an appetizer before dinner and then “antipasto?” It was like a blast from the past. I have not made an antipasto since my dad passed away. Why? I don’t really know, I’m sure that my boys would probably love it and enjoy it, but somehow it just wouldn’t be the same. Dad was the one that lived for the antipasto and I don’t know if it would be the same without him at the table to join us. Perhaps it’s nothing more than a subconscious sign of respect to recognize the fact that he no longer sits at the holiday table with us. I can’t seem to put my heart into it when he’s not here to enjoy it, considering it really was because of my dad that it was included with every holiday meal regardless of the occasion.
Well, folks officially less than a week until Thanksgiving. We are headed toward the start of the “holiday season” fast and furiously. For me, let’s see – our house is torn apart, everything’s a disaster around here and I don’t think I have one single Thanksgiving dinner ingredient in my house yet. Full steam ahead! Bring it on. I’ve had a headache pretty much for the last week or so and nerves are frazzled. I can’t wait to have things back in order – or at least our normal sense of order.
Putting all that aside, we were reminiscing tonight about the holidays and memories. I asked our youngest son what he would like to have with turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, which sparked a conversation of holidays gone by. While some things endure through many generations, some traditions or foods slowly slip away from our table as the people with whom they are associated leave us. Why this happens I am not sure. I think that we sometimes take for granted certain aspects of our holidays because we take for granted the people behind them. We assume that the food, like the person will always be around.
For example, in my memories, my great Aunt Mary always showed up on holidays with literally a back seat full of pies – chocolate cream pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie and pumpkin pie. Pies that would make any baker shrink back in defeat. While we still make pie for dessert on certain holidays, none of our pies can hold a candle to Aunt Mary’s. The same thing with her stuffing – a mix of sausage, apple, onion and seasonings – a combination that I, my sister and my brother have desperately attempted year after year to recreate and somehow always fall just short of Aunt Mary’s stuffing.
I realize that we have not had antipasto since my Dad passed away. We had antipasto for the appetizer for every major holiday for as far back as I can remember and mostly since it was one of his favorites – huge platters piled high with Italian meats, cheese, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, hot cherry peppers, pepperocini and such. They are conspicuously absent from my holiday meals – intentionally or not – I couldn’t tell you, it just doesn’t seem right to have one of his favorite foods without him.
Tom reminisced about his grandmother’s dinners for holidays which always started with a homemade fruit salad. Pretty much the same thing – even if we tried to recreate it, it just wouldn’t be the same.
I know that the holidays are a natural time to remember. I hope that your reminiscing brings back as many good memories as ours did this evening.