You’ve probably seen the “How Italians do such and such” meme if you frequent the internet like the rest of us. If not, you’re in luck, because I’m here to talk about “real” Italians.
As much as I love to believe my blood cells are pepperoni and to see our famous hand gestures Photoshopped in the most peculiar places, Italians are none of those things.
We’re obsessed with anise and marinara, red wine and good cheese. We value family so much we gossip about each other – but doesn’t everybody?
We hold day-long parties in family living rooms and discuss the family profession over samplings of meatballs and Michelob Ultra.
At least, that’s what I did this weekend. My grandfather is the oldest of six, a lot like me, only my mom literally one-upped her grandmother by having a seventh child while Tootsie stopped at six.
I have been blessed to see all his surviving siblings and cousins about once a year, even though we’re all spread out along the corners of Pennsylvania. Punxatawney, the dopey little town with a groundhog where the Astorinos started, is about halfway for all of us, so we meet there or nearby.
The highlight of my summers growing up was making the trip to Punxy for the St. Anthony’s festival, where we’d catch up with my mother’s side of the family, play penny games and eat funnel cakes until our stomachs hurt.
This year, it was a St. Patrick’s Day house party hosted by Papa’s brother Ronnie and his family.
But before we could enjoy any of it, the Gherings had to pile into the trusty SUV – all eight of us – and brave the two-hour ride. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say 3-year-old girls and 6-foot tall 13-year-olds do not like sitting in their car seats.
If Rachel wasn’t asking to get out, Isaak was reminding us he was as tall as our dad and shouldn’t sit in the back. Although that died down after the first hundred miles.
Once we got there, we were greeted with affection and questions from almost everyone.
“So good to see you! When’s the wedding?”
I’ve definitely come to appreciate it over the years – I think it’s easy to take little gestures and traditions for granted until your great aunt or uncle isn’t around to share them anymore.
And I will be the first to acknowledge I have written about my family for close to three years on The Gannon Knight, but I haven’t found the words to thank them.
It’s a blessing to be close with your family, even if your road trips are sheer hell and sometimes you count the days until you can move out. But I know I’m going to miss all the antics, especially from my siblings.
We watched “Trolls” on the way home Sunday, and it was the first time I’d laughed out loud at a movie in a long time. I had to conclude watching it with my sister was what made the difference.
Italians might bleed marinara sauce, but “Italian” sisters annoy the whole movie theater with their cackling laughter and then carry each other home afterward.
I love you Julie, Carly and Rachel – hopefully you can forgive me for moving out soon. I promise to keep writing.