Remembering even further back....as a child...spending Christmas Eve Feast of the 7 Fishes with the whole family at our grandparents. I would spend many a Christmas Eve eating oyster crackers because I HATE fish!! All of us cousins...we were quite a crowd...would take our turn opening presents...The fireplace crackling. Grandma Ev would get us the things to throw in the fire to make it burn colors...they never worked very well but we LOVED them!
Time passed and our family grew and we moved our Feast to my parents home and it was a little sad. Many of those years leave some pain as my brother and I had our difficult years together. I closed my bakeries and moved to NJ and soon began our own NEW holiday traditions. Soon we had Christian and things changed....sometimes the big kids would drive to Connecticut to spend the EVE with my family and come home in time for an after midnight meal with friends and family...we could eat MEAT after midnight!!
I am unable to think about these things with out thinking of the people....the people we have lost...many of them to cancer. Grandma Ev to lung cancer, Uncle Albert, lung cancer, Uncle Ralph, breast cancer but passed of surgical complications, Aunt Sis, complications...Most of them SO young when they passed. My God Father, Cousin Bob and his wife Georgie Ann and his brothers Kenny & Nicky all 4 gone to lung cancer!
And then things seem to change...family begins to grow out in different directions....spin offs if you will...small groups still together, others seeing each other only rarely. Not sure why that happens.
Then we lost Uncle Bob, cancer, and Aunt Jackie 1 1/2 ago, cancer...and my brother...suddenly, unexpectedly while I was battling cancer. Then we lost Pam Posh more then a friend...she was family, lung cancer...our table that was once growing by leaps and bounds was dwindling much quicker then we were prepared for!
With my brother gone and my parents here in NJ the Feast Of the 7 Fishes has dwindled...my sister in law and I don't eat fish and most of the kids don't either!! So we try new and different ideas each year to see if we want to make them traditions. But NEVER forgetting the memories of each and every one of those past holidays! And NEVER forgetting the importance of those traditions...what ever they maybe....for the generations to share, pass down....for memories!!
So, it is not with total sadness that my memory floods with the holidays....it is with joy...I have SO many memories of each and every one of my loved ones. Things we shared, moments, new marriages, new babies, new careers. Crazy cousin moments!! It is so important to me that our children hear the stories and live some form of tradition...Christian being so much younger then every one in his "generation" we work harder so we can plant the seeds...the seeds of family! I keep telling the cousins still with us that the torch has been passed...it is UP to US!! If we want the new members of this family to know the heart of the family we need to bring them together....before it's too late....before we lose more...
Being Italian, we still have a pretty large family on both sides...this is for you...listen with your heart, think about what you want to leave to your children, a legacy of family or strangers? Think about how you will feel when you hear we have lost another...should have called them, wish I stopped by to see them...Listen to me...LIFE is SHORT....sometime much shorter then you think....Use MY gift of cancer to learn from....reach out to that family member....even if they seem to put you off...do it any way....do it for YOU!! Mend those bridges no matter who is responsible for breaking them...just do it! I thank God everyday that I mended the bridge to my brother's heart...I know he did his part as well...in his own way....but I had my time with him...I wish it had been more...but I believe we had our peace and for that I am forever grateful.
So do your part to mend a bridge, or a fence or what ever you want to call it...pick up that phone in the spirit of Christmas...share your love openly, give forgiveness you have been denying, get out there and dance...do what ever makes you feel complete...but be sure to share it!! Remember tomorrow is not a guarantee so live each day like you are dying.
And in that continued spirit of holiday giving...consider giving of your self to our great cause...every little bit helps us help others the only way we can....day by day!