My Mom was an awesome cook. And we lived in a pretty big house when I was a kid. She loved to host holidays and any party, really. She would make everything perfect. Mom always looked up new and trendy recipes and decorated thoughtfully. Even the presentation of the food was special. I was taught at a very young age the proper way to set a table. Salad fork to soup spoon, water glass to wine goblet, I knew what went where and when to use them. There were charger plates and napkin rings and table linens for every occasion. Mom just made everything so special. And the food was always ecstatically delicious! She was Martha Stewart before there WAS a Martha Stewart!
I remember a Thanksgiving when I was about 8 years old, when I had pneumonia. I was so disappointed that I just didn’t have enough energy or appetite to enjoy the festivities. I made a mighty attempt, but in the end, I was relegated to my bed. I couldn’t keep anything in my stomach and it was my saddest Thanksgiving. But still, my family was around. Mom brought me clear broth. My Nana pressed a cool washcloth to my feverish forehead. Pop-pop tried to make me laugh. Uncle Al tried to sneak me some egg-nog, which I promptly threw up. There was a lot of love.
As I grew older I was able to help in the kitchen and I learned how to cook like my Mom. I enjoyed the elegance of the tables she set. And sometimes the faces seated around the table would change. Aunt Angie and Uncle Mike would sometimes join us along with various cousins, neighbors and friends. Uncle Mike and I were born under the same astrological sign and he made that a point of solidarity between us. We were the Aquarians of the family. Aunt Angie brought a sweetness and a kind of charming humor to the table. She and my Nana (her sister) were always sharing inside jokes and laughing together about things that seemed absolutely mystical and ancient to me.
There were some Thanksgiving adventures too. One year our turkey, fully cooked, was stolen right out of our kitchen! We ate pizza that year, with the usual Thanksgiving sides and there was a lot of laughter. My mom actually sent out some positive thoughts to the person who may have been a simple teenage vandal or may have been a very hungry homeless person. Either way, we had Thanksgiving and things for which to be thankful.
As this year’s Thanksgiving approaches, I want to honor those I’ve named here. Mom, Nana, Pop-pop, Uncle Al, Uncle Mike and Aunt Angie have all passed on. I miss them. But I am remembering them because I’m truly grateful that I had them in my life. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
For Constance Anne Galletta-Martin; Faye (Fanny) Galletta; Dominick Joseph Galletta; Alfred Galletta; Michael Scudero; Angelina Scudero