Ever wonder what it's like to be a part of one of those crazy, big, Italian families? Better yet, ever wonder what it's like to grow up in one of them? Fortunately, I was lucky enough to grow up in one of those families... and the stories I can share from my lovely family are endless.
For everyone who grew up in a family similar to mine, this one is for you. And, for everyone who didn't, this one is still for you, since now, you can thank me and pretend like you did anyway:
To many non-Italians, Sunday might be a contender for least favorite day of the week. But, say the word "Sunday" to an Italian, and it's likely he or she will identify it as a favorite.
You see, Sundays are dedicated to one thing and one thing only: family. Not one Sunday goes by where you don't have at least 20 family members, friends and neighbors crowded around a table full of every yummy Italian food imaginable.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, in this world that compares to Mom or Grandma's famous sauce and meatballs. The smell, the taste, the flavor, the all-around perfection and deliciousness...
Like, come on, how could you not go for two, sometimes three, servings of dinner that night?!
Let's just talk about the cousins for a minute. First of all, there are so many of them, it is impossible to remember all of their names, which kid belongs to who, who's blood-related and who just married in. Then, when you finally think you know everyone, there comes along more cousins you never even knew you had.
A reality show called, "Keeping Up with the Cousins," would put those Kardashians to shame. I mean, you can't write half of the stuff that happens in an Italian family. Seriously, you can't.
We Italians will do just about anything to throw a party. All the holidays, birthdays, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, first birthdays — the list goes on and on. You could pass your road test after failing three times and there would still be a party.
Or, how about at graduation when you look out in the audience and see that your family takes up a full section of the stands, and they're louder than everyone else combined? Meanwhile, the person standing next to you has two, maybe three people at most, and guess what? They're quiet!
But, hold on; let's just bring it back a minute to the weddings. There is nothing quite like a big Italian wedding. What more can you ask for at a wedding than the finest Italian food and endless dancing with those crazy cousins?
And, how can we forget about a little family sing along to the famous Dean Martin, "That's Amore"?
What language are they even speaking?
How about those relatives who walk around, mumbling Italian words all the time? Yes, you all know the ones I'm talking about. What are they even saying?
Actually, we probably don't even want to know what they're saying because most of the time, they're just rambling off a bunch of F-bombs.
Also, there is never a point in time when an Italian's hands aren't in full motion during a conversation. What can I say? We like to spruce things up by adding in a few hand gestures here and there.
In-between all the mumbling and the hand gestures come the real Italian voices, and I'm talking about the loudness, my friends. We are loud, and we are proud! Try sitting down to have a conversation with a big group, I dare you. The chances of you being heard are slim to none.
You know somebody who knows somebody who...
It is a small world out there, my friends, and even smaller when you have such a large family. There will always be a time when you talk to somebody who winds up knowing someone in your family.
Or, this is my favorite: "Oh, yes, I know someone who knows someone who is best friends with your cousin."
Or the famous, "Your cousin just so happens to be best friends with your best friend's cousins. Like, oh-em-gee, you guys were like totally meant to be best friends!!"
Everything, and I mean every single thing, we do has a reason behind it and at least a 10-minute story to go along with it, too. We are all about the traditions, making sure we keep up with those traditions, and then, making sure we keep them within the family.
For example, that Sunday sauce is so good because everyone has a special ingredient Grandma asks us to throw in. And, of course, we can't give that secret ingredient away, so don't ask for it.
How about all those weird traditions your older relatives feel the need to STILL follow, even though they make no sense in today's world? Like, when your nose is itchy, you have to slap someone's hand; otherwise, you'll get into a fight. Also, don't cut a baby's hair before his or her first birthday because it's bad luck.
I mean, seriously, where do we come up with these things? Yet, 10 minutes after making fun of someone for doing those things, you find yourself doing them, too. Why? Because, duh, it's tradition!!
At the end of the day, there is one thing that remains constant: your family and all the outpouring love that comes along with them. Through thick and thin and for better or worse, your family will always be there for you. Remember that blood is thicker than water.
When it all boils down, your family knows you better than you know yourself, whether you'll admit it or not. Along with all the craziness comes the unconditional love.
There is not one person who would miss the opportunity to squeeze you a little tighter and kiss you just one time. The love we have for each other is endless, and I would not trade it for the world.