Winter break with my big, fat Italian family

I went home for Christmas break last semester with the excitement level of a 2-year-old.   I couldn’t wait to get back to my six younger siblings and four-bedroom house.  I really was excited to spend Christmas at home, though.

One of my roommates asked me how my parents pull off Christmas with such a big family and my friend wittily replied for me: “They sell organs, right?”

It is pretty impressive fitting presents for nine people in a living room designed for maybe four people.  I have to give my parents a lot of credit.

The energy my siblings had that morning was also enviable.  It took me half an hour and a big cup of coffee before I felt half awake.  They were up at 6, surveying our living room until they could coax everyone else out of bed.

I think my 17-year-old sister, Carly, got the best gift.  Her boyfriend is in the Air Force and she was under the impression he wasn’t coming home until January.

I found out within two days of getting home that he was coming for Christmas.  He was going to meet her at our only decent downtown restaurant, but she thought she was meeting his mom for dinner.

Since I was in on the surprise, I realized Carly was not going to be at our house once her boyfriend was home.  I made us an appointment to get our hair dyed because we had been joking about going the way old ladies make a day out of salon appointments. And that was the last time I saw my sister… just kidding!

Carly was there Christmas morning and brought her boyfriend to my grandma’s Christmas dinner.  He played pool with my little brothers and wisely left before there were any political discussions over the leftovers.

Christmas at my grandmother’s is always an ordeal to say the least.  My mom is the oldest of four siblings and her two sisters each bring their kids over for holidays.  Her youngest brother came home from teaching at Washington State University and stayed for about a week.

With our seven kids, my five cousins and some of the boyfriends and girlfriends, the table gets really full.  There’s about three put together to fit all 25 of us and we go from the dining room straight into the living room.  It’s the only way we all fit.

I spent the remainder of my break working on and off at my mother’s pharmacy and taking care of my baby sister.  I had moments where I forgot I had to come back to Gannon.  When the last week of break started dwindling, my mom made a habit of looking at me and asking what she was going to do once I had to go back to school.

I was reluctant to go back.  It was fun filling prescriptions and getting mistaken for Carly at work.  I had a couple of our regular costumers ask me if I was excited that my boyfriend was home.  If I were snappier, I might have told them I was really enjoying the company of my invisible boyfriend.

Of course, it’s not fair to treat innocent mistakes to sassiness. It was easier to say “oh no, that’s my sister” anyway.

Besides, she was grateful enough to be off the work schedule and be with her boyfriend.  It was the least I could do to be polite.



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