Thursday, November 19, 2009

My House

The Dream


http://www.italianfoodnet.com/images/normale_3wpgv5qhstruffoli.jpg

I had a dream last night. I dreamt I went back to the house where I grew up. The house where my Italian family lived complete with grandparents. The house where so many warm and sweet memories were formed. I know there were some bad memories in the mix but somehow I can't remember very many and most were the spawn of teenage angst.

The house is here in the town where I still live. I have the opportunity to drive by it often and do. I will go out of my way a block or so to visit it and see what the new owners have done since the last time I drove by. Even though it's been 10 years since my parents have lived there, the people who bought it from my mom and dad will always be called "the new owners".

The holidays in this house were like those you'd see in a movie. My mom was an avid holiday decorator. We had nice decorations but much of it was what we had when I was very little in the 70's. Such excitement would ensue when Mom finally decided that today would be the day that the old, brown decoration boxes would come down from the attic. (Excitement for everyone except Dad because that meant he had to go and get them. Dad was not an avid decorator.) Every year, those boxes would get a little more tattered as they were passed down the attic stairs where the large metal springs on the attic door would catch and tear at the corrugated card board and every year more tape was added to extend their purpose.

The tree ornaments were old, glass, and usually from Germany. Some were newer Shiny Brites with flocked shooting stars and moons on them. As a teenager I pleaded with my mom not to put the ornaments on the tree we kids had made in school over the years, citing tackiness as a valid reason. Every year I lost that battle and up would go the paper chains and hand prints. The tree was always gorgeous and traditional. No theme trees because there are no memories in themes. Old glass beads hung from the dining room chandelier, and the kitchen had Christmas towels and pot holders and whatever wouldn't go somewhere else.

The food. Oh good Lord, the food! Fezzywig would have had a time keeping up with my mother's ability to throw a feast! We were Roman Catholic Italians so that meant fish on Christmas Eve. "Fish" meant scampi, calamari in marinara sauce (tentacles and all. I loved it.), or fettucini alfredo. There was always tons of wonderful salad "fixed" with mom's Italian dressing and served after the meal.

Sometimes, when we were older, we would pile in the car and go to Midnight Mass. If not, we went Christmas morning. My parents were never overkill on the "reason for the season" but Mass was very important.

Christmas Day started with Bloody Marys or Mimosas, coffee and presents. Then we ate and celebrated our way through the day. Antipasto salad piled high with Italian cold cuts, cheeses, marinated olives, and artichoke hearts. For dinner there was lasagna, standing rib roast, mashed potatoes, etc. Wine, wine, and more wine! Desserts were everywhere! Christmas cookies, struffoli (little balls of cookie dough that are deep fried and then drenched in honey and sprinkles), Italian pizzelle cookies, cakes, etc. Frozen grasshoppers were last (even we kids were allowed to drink them).

What I remember most though is, even as a teenager, not wanting to "get away" from the family. I wanted to be there and enjoy my family and whatever family was there from out of town. (One year, we had 18 relatives from out of town staying with us.) Italians are very emotional people and that usually means that someone has disowned someone else in the family. But during the holidays, it was all hugs and kisses. Grandma would pinch our cheeks and say,"Quanto sei bella!" I could go on and on. I was so lucky to have this as a
child...

...but, back to my dream... I am driving by my old house and decide to stop. My 10 year old daughter is with me. Before I get to the front door, I notice that they are in the process of walling up a few windows. How odd, I think. I knock and a woman in her late fifties answers the door. She seems discontent, grouchy. When she finds out who I am she immediately gives me a tour of the house, to show me what she's done since they moved in. As I walked through the house, I recognize nothing... nothing. I see cracks in the walls and although there are furniture and curtains, the house feels vacant. I feel sad and lost. As she leads me back to the front door, she says that her kids are grown and gone and now it's just she and her mother (she rolls her eyes). She says that she's putting the house on the market and I should buy it back. Just before I leave the lady grabs my arm gently, just above the elbow, and says, "I almost forgot!" We turn to the left and she opens a pair of double doors. Memories flood as I realize that this was my grandparents' room. It was exactly the same as I remember it, even the smell. Yes, that old-people smell, but for me at that moment in a house that wasn't mine anymore, it was the sweetest smell.

8 comments:

Madge said...

i'm going to freak out if you buy that house

Blondie said...

Great post girl! Thanks so much for the sweet comments on my Little House post honey. Have a great day! Kori xoxo

Oh My Goddess said...

What a great post! So vivid! I could go for some of that Fettucine Alfredo.
And come back for a Grasshopper.
What about the house???

Stacie said...

Oh it's only for sale in the dream. There was one near it once and Tony and I looked at it but decided against it. No, it still sits with the "new owners" in it.

phd in yogurtry said...

Dreams are so wonderful because there you CAN go home. Your family holidays sound so special. It says a lot that your teen self wanted to stick around.

Stacie said...

phd- thanks. I just hope I don't forget how good it was.

otin said...

My family was an Italian family from NJ. we used to have similar Christmas experiences when I was a kid. My Mom and Dad split up when I was 6. My mom later sold the house, even though she never wanted to. Years later, it was on the market, she went to look at it. She could not hope to buy it back, she just wanted to go in one more time.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Oh, the stuff of dreams...
I was in a family which moved into a new house, new town, new state every year, sometimes twice in a year. I don't even remember where most of those houses were. How wonderful for you that you can see your memories come to life often.
Sweet dreams.