the morning of Thanksgiving Day. Cousin Sadie and Mamma Lucia had just
finished stuffing the turkey. Now they needed
someone to admire
their handiwork. Nina and Margarita who were busy creating a mountain of
salad, were summoned to come
look at the plump turkey before it was
plopped into the hot oven. Margarita with a whimsical smile exclaimed
“Oh, the poor
bird!” Nina, her eyes twinkling as usual, playfully
groaned, “I’m starving! When will dinner be ready?” As the turkey
into the oven, Mamma Lucia being the most experienced
cook, estimated the time that the turkey would be served, and added
proudly “It will be succulent and cooked to perfection.” They laughed,
sang and scurried around the kitchen as they put their “Turkey
noticed snowflakes sticking to her kitchen window and cautioned her
husband Vito to go pick up Giovanna, Giovanni and
the baby before
the snow piled up any higher. He was also reminded to stop at the local
Italian bakery to pick up the cannoli and
other pastries they had
Vito arrived at my parents’ home Giovanni wrapped me up in warm
blankets, Giovanna picked up a basket filled with her
baked biscotti, and out into the falling snow we went.
remembered to stop at the bakery and after he had gingerly placed the
pastries in the trunk of his car he carefully drove
snow-covered streets. As we rode along Giovanna admired the trees with
their outstretched white glistening
branches while Giovanni wondered
how much snow he would have to shovel the next day to keep the Rockford
streets safe and clean.
Giovanna was looking forward to spending the day with her mother and
sisters. She decided that today she would be happy. By
the time they
arrived at Vito’s house, and stepped out of the car, a blanket of snow
had transformed the old neighborhood into
a scrapbook of lovely
winter scenes. Giovanna had never seen snow while she was growing up in
sunny Sicily. This was her first
winter in America. She wondered if
the trees in Brooklyn were as pretty as these in Rockford.
snuggled into my father’s arms and quickly carried into the house. Now I
was surrounded by my loving relatives who took
turns bouncing me up
and down. I laughed, I am told, until they put me into my tiny crib. The
room resounded with happy
voices, and mouth-watering aromas streamed
in from the kitchen. Appetites had reached their peak when Mamma Lucia
All were beckoned to the table. After a heartfelt prayer of
thanks, dinner was served.
a lovely Thanksgiving Day and “Going Away” celebration; eight souls
under one roof. They enjoyed each others’ closeness
wished that they would all be together again very soon.
and Vito had grown accustomed to having Lucia and her two lively young
daughters living with them for the past several
childless couple had enjoyed helping the girls with their homework,
taking them to concerts in the park and to an
occasional movie. They
would miss Nina and Margarita coming home from school every day,
singing, giggling and happily
pronouncing the new English phrases
that they had learned that day.
feasting continued; the meal was delicious of course. Sadie and Vito had
learned about the typical American Thanksgiving
Day dinner: the
turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and even a pumpkin
pie. Just to make sure that something had
not been left out, a large
pan of lasagna had also been served. It seemed to remind these Italian
immigrants that their old traditions
could easily mix with the new.
just a month old then and had no teeth yet, so I didn’t get to taste the
turkey that was cooked to perfection and as
succulent as my
grandmother promised it would be.
However, I smacked my lips hungrily when my mother fed me a few
teaspoons full of the cannoli cream!
snow had stopped falling. Vito drove my parents and me home, but not
before Mamma Lucia had promised Giovanna that
she would come to
visit her as often as possible during the four remaining weeks before
next morning Giovanni arrived early as usual, at the Department of
Sanitation. Instead of holding a broom he now maneuvered
piling snow up at the curbs. It was a crystal clear day, cold but sunny.
He felt vigorous and confident that by working
hard and being frugal
he would make Giovanna happy by saving enough money to risk leaving his
job and moving to Brooklyn.
day arrived when Mamma Lucia and her two young daughters, suitcases in
hand, were ready for their trip to Brooklyn. The
Giovanna had not been easy. They all cried, but they had faith and were
comforted by Giovanni’s promise that it
would not be too long before
the family would be reunited.
and Sadie drove Mamma Lucia and her daughters to the train station.
Again there were tears, and many good wishes
were exchanged. Vito
and Sadie promised that they would visit the Palmeri family very soon.
train ride was pleasant. The young girls chatted and looked forward to
being with the rest of their family. They wondered
would be like. Mamma Lucia
prayed that Giovanni would decide to leave Rockford in the near future.
Stefano had made the newly rented apartment as comfortable as possible
for his family and waited eagerly for their arrival.
Pasquale were also eager to be reunited with their mother and sisters
again. Anichia had postponed her engagement;
Pasquale knew he’d be
forgiven for his adolescent escapades.
an exciting and truly heartwarming reunion.
The tears were of joy. This was the beginning of their lives
together in this new
The only ones missing now were Giovanna, her husband and their
first and only grandchild, me, Baby Rosa.
They would have to wait
patiently for the day when their family would truly be reunited.
meantime, the Palmeri family counted their blessings. They were together
for Christmas Day and spent a most wonderful
Natale. Padre Stefano now owned and operated his own
fruit and vegetable store. Pasquale was a great help to his father.
Lucia was content to work as a seamstress and occasionally was
asked to do fine embroidery at a nearby boutique. Anichia
engaged to a distant relative, a fine young man, Anthony Bertone. Nina
and Margarita were enrolled in the local elementary
Back in Rockford, Giovanna, Giovanni and I
spent Christmas Day with cousins, Vito and Sadie. It wasn’t exactly a
for Giovanna, but she knew the true meaning of
Christmas. It was a holy and joyful day. She felt a loving gratitude
Sadie and Vito for their kindness and generosity. She loved
her darling little Baby Rosa and of course Giovanni would always
her “Adonis”; so like the Palmeri family in Brooklyn, we too had a