Preparing Your Home for the Holidays: A Heartfelt Story of Family Transition and Togetherness

Preparing Your Home for the Holidays: A Heartfelt Story of Family Transition and Togetherness

Posted On: November 14th, 2023

Preparing Your Home for the Holidays: A Heartfelt Story of Family Tradition and Togetherness

As we approach the holiday season, I want to share a personal story that goes beyond sales and special offers. This story is about the essence of family.

Growing up, the holidays were always a time filled with anticipation and joy for me. The aroma of simmering sauce, roasted potatoes, and a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin filled our home. And yes, even a lasagna baking in the oven. Being part of a big Italian family, it wasn't uncommon for us to enjoy lasagna on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Getting our home ready for the holidays was a true labor of love. I can vividly remember my mom meticulously cleaning walls and shampooing carpets in preparation for the decorations that would soon adorn our home. The endless to-do lists were overshadowed by the excitement of what lay ahead during the holiday season.

Whenever guests arrived, there was an electric buzz of excitement in the air. Everyone looked forward to reconnecting, sharing stories, and indulging in our beloved Sicilian recipes. It was a time for us to cook together, serve one another, and celebrate our family bonds. Even cleaning up from cooking, scrubbing pots and pans from all of the delicious goodness that was made, was still a bonding time with family. 

One particular tradition held a special place in our hearts: gathering at my Aunt Ciccina's house for a traditional Sicilian dinner. My brother and I eagerly awaited these gatherings, knowing that they would be filled with laughter and joy. 

We would devour homemade cream puffs and cannolis without a care in the world about calories. The house echoed with the laughter of children running around, while the adults savored wine and Sambuca. In those moments, life felt perfect, and the importance of family and tradition shone even brighter.

But life, as it often does, brought about a transition in our family. Every Sunday, my dad and his siblings would gather at Aunt Ciccina's for coffee and cookies. It was a time to catch up, reconnect, and share in each other's lives. Sometimes, the cousins would join in for a visit, making it a mandatory family affair. If someone didn't show up, rest assured that a phone call would be made.

As a child, I didn't fully grasp the significance of these gatherings. It wasn't until everything changed that I realized how precious those moments truly were. Almost four years ago, I lost my dad to heart issues, and two years later, we said goodbye to my beloved aunt. The holidays became bittersweet, and life seemed different, especially during those first few years.

The last time I saw my dad was on Christmas. We shared an unforgettable evening together. We relished a delicious meal, while my brother and my niece and nephew serenaded us with their musical talents. It was a magical night, and my heart overflowed with love and gratitude.

Little did I know that it would be our last Christmas together. You never know when a moment will become a cherished memory. Now, as I turn 45 with three children of my own, I understand the importance of carrying on these traditions.

Time seems to slip away so quickly, and our days are filled with busyness. In this ever-changing world, it's easy to lose ourselves in the chaos. That's why I'm sharing this story with you because you are an integral part of our extended family.

And you know how families are—they offer advice whether you ask for it or not. So here's my advice for you and your loved ones this holiday season: take the time to truly savor one another's company. Look at your family, and your friends who are like family, and appreciate where you all come from—the good and maybe even the not-so-good. I understand that not all families are perfect, but whether it's a biological family or the chosen family, put down your cell phones and immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.

Listen intently to the stories and anecdotes that may sound familiar. One day, those memories will fade into the distance, and you'll long for just a taste of those moments again.

I am grateful to say that the younger generation in our family has graciously taken over the Sunday gatherings. We continue to come together for coffee, cannolis, and the occasional unsolicited advice. It's a tradition we cherish, and it serves as a reminder of the enduring power of family.

As we embark on this holiday season, let us not forget the importance of family, the warmth of togetherness, and the beauty of treasured traditions. May your home be filled with laughter, love, and the shared joy that comes from being surrounded by those who mean the most to you.

With heartfelt wishes for a memorable and meaningful holiday season,

Maria Mooney

Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother & Truly Free Family Member

P.S. I wanted to share my favorite Italian cookie recipe from my Aunt Ciccina. It’s so delicious!