Celebration of a Sanctification
Giovanni proudly strutted out of the church carrying me, his wife’s arm
snuggled through his.
They arrived home and soon were joined by
their jovial guests. The house was small and unpretentious,
these well-wishers made themselves comfortable as they took their places
at the table.
celebration for Baby Rosa’s Sanctification was about to begin, but first
I had to be settled into my
bassinet. Luckily, I was asleep before
my head touched the pillow. Giovanni placed the bottles of red
on the improvised dining table that was covered with a lovely white
linen tablecloth. Glasses
were filled, then raised in unison as the
guests affectionately toasted the young couple and extended
very best wishes. Giovanna and Giovanni were deeply grateful. Soon Mamma
Lucia and her two
young daughters carried out platters of antipasto
that consisted of, among other delicacies, mushrooms,
mozzarella, salami, olives, pepperoncini and garlic bread.
conversation at the table was lively, and the munching of food was even
livelier. The guests took
turns telling riddles or funny stories.
Their laughter suddenly mingled with their hand clapping
Lucia, Giovanna, Lena and Margaret carried to the table bowls of salad,
of homemade lasagna then followed by more platters of
meatballs, sausage and veal cutlets. The
guests’ hearty approval was
music to the ears of Mamma Lucia who had taught her daughters
she knew about Italian cooking.
feasting continued and when the guests were just about satiated,
espresso coffee was served
with a variety of pastries, including the
delicious cannoli from Giovanni’s favorite pastry shop. With
of well-being, they smacked their lips and sampled the different kinds
Ordinarily, at this point they would have danced a “Tarantella”, but
there wasn’t enough room for
that in this postage-stamp-sized room.
Besides good food, music was another joy of life for these
fun-loving immigrants. The evening could not end without a few of the
guests singing their favorite
My young aunts, Lena and Margaret, were shy, but with a little
prodding they sang a duet
that they had learned in their music class
at school. The guests, most of whom knew very few English
were impressed by the ten and eleven-year-old sisters singing in
English. They applauded
and hugged the two young girls. Mamma Lucia
looked at her daughters approvingly, while her
thoughts strayed to
the day in the very near future when she would bring the girls to
Padre Stefano would be so proud of them.
of the other guests took turns exercising their vocal chords. Giovanna
did not have to be
urged to sing.
She had a truly beautiful alto voice and knew the words and
melodies to all the
popular Neapolitan love songs. She was the
songbird of the family.
Giovanni loved opera and
managed to sing a selection from one of his
favorite operas, but of course he sang it in his own key.
applauded him and teasingly suggested that he audition for a “roll” at
Opera House. Giovanni was a good sport and laughed
heartily at the joke.
this point I added a few high notes of my own to the celebration.
Giovanna attended to Baby Rosa’s
needs and then brought her out so
that the relatives and friends could get another look at her
two-week-old baby girl. With warm embraces Giovanna and Giovanni were
again and thanked for a truly lovely day as the guests
bid them good-night.
Giovanna and Giovanni closed the door after the last departing guest,
they looked at each
other with the same thought. They were tired but
happy. The birth of Baby
Rosa had helped them
achieve another milestone in their lives. They
counted their blessings as they tucked me gently into
Giovanna had only one disturbing thought; it was the letter that Padre
Stefano had written to
Giovanni had left his whole family in Sicily to marry Giovanna
and come to America.
Would he understand her need to be near her
parents, sisters and brother? She prayed that their
would be a happy one.