A Christmas Reminiscence

Posted on 23 December 2009

Christmas Reminiscence

In today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing world, the Holiday Season is upon us and gone before we know it.  As I consider my own Christmases past, I think about the simpler and yet – in many ways – more joyful Holidays of my youth.


Growing up in an Italian-American family in South Philadelphia, I viewed the Holiday Season as the most wonderful time of the year.  And, for those uninitiated in Italian-American culture, any Holiday was an occasion for a sumptuous feast fit for a King.  


Despite growing up during the Great Depression, I experienced no want in my family’s Holiday celebrations.  My maternal grandfather owned and operated a Barber Shop and, for these happy occasions, he would set up a long banquet table in his Shop.  There, the entire family would gather for a multi-course food fest.


With Thanksgiving ushering in this most joyous season of the year, we celebrated in grand style.  Our feast would begin with Meatball Soup, a soup created from chicken stock with tiny meatballs.  Next, was a pasta course comprised of homemade ravioli and gravy meats including meatballs, sausage, and braciole.  A short time thereafter the turkey would appear with all the trimmings.  For dessert, we enjoyed a wide variety of homemade pies and cookies, as well as fresh fruit and ice cream.  And, the best part was the thought that we would do it all over again the following month for Christmas!


After Thanksgiving, my parents would take my brothers and me to Center City where we would tour the decorated department stores and look at gifts for Christmas.  We were each allowed one small gift and the highlight of the evening was to eat at Horn & Hardart’s Automat restaurant.


The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was a time of wonder and anticipation for a young boy.  When December 24th arrived, we celebrated with the traditional Italian Christmas Eve fish dinner.  Then, we decorated our Christmas tree with tinsel and put the star atop the tree and the Nativity Scene beneath it.  Listening to the radio and hearing Silent Night, Adeste Fideles, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and Jingle Bells brought a feeling of peace and serenity.


Christmas in our family was a Holy Day and so, we went to church before enjoying the family feast at grandpa’s.  When grandpa passed away, the duty of family gatherings was passed on to my parents.  Yet, I will never forget those wonderful Holidays of my youth with grandpa at his Barber Shop.


As I reminisce Christmases past, I also think about my service during World War II, when the Holidays found me half a world away from family and friends.  The song I’ll Be Home for Christmas still rings in my ears.  And, as I consider Christmas present, my thoughts turn to our troops manning the lonely outposts of the world during this Christmas season.  May the joy of Christmas lift their spirits and may “Peace on Earth, good will towards men” lead us to a better tomorrow.

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3 Responses to “A Christmas Reminiscence”

  1. Janis says:

    Thank you for this lovely article.

    No one, in my opinion, knows how to celebrate like the Italians. My family also did the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I honor this tradition and save myself a lot of stress by making a big pot of marina sauce with fresh herbs. Into this I put seven types of swimming fish and shellfish, timing their cooking in accordance with their size/thickness. I toss the sauce with linguine and everyone is happy (after their antipasta, of course). The leftovers are even better than the sauce served on Christmas Eve!

  2. Casino says:

    go figure lol!

  3. ACT says:

    Great post! I’ll subscribe right now wth my feedreader software!

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