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Funny how a photograph can be so revealing…just look at me – I am definitely one happy woman! I see no stress lines. I see a smile that stretches across my entire face. I see joy in my eyes. I see contentment beyond measure. I am glowing. I have a secret!
Ever since I can remember Sunday has been my favorite day of the week. Its very name is joyous…Sun-day! What is more glorious than a day associated with the sun? Even when the sun is hidden by clouds that eventually burst into rain Sunday will always be Sun-day!
As a child I loved getting dressed in my Sunday best –all reserved for that special day. On this day I usually walked almost twenty-five minutes with my dad to Sunday Mass at eleven. We did not own a car. On our return we enjoyed a special family lunch. When I married I still loved going home for the family lunch on Sundays and this continued when I had my children. Going to nonno and nonna’s was special.
Two of my children were married within months of each other. A standing invitation went out to both inviting them to Sunday lunch. They were not obligated to attend; all that was required was a confirmation. To this day, all three of my children, my five grandchildren, along with my youngest son’s fiancée attend Sunday lunch at our house on a regular basis. We now number fourteen in total.
The menu has not changed at all over the years. I confess that I did try to alter it once but was quickly admonished by my toddler grandchildren; they are now seventeen. They refused to eat because it was not their usual – meatballs. It goes without saying that nonna aims to please.
I awake around six, bathe and dress my mother; we enjoy our leisurely breakfast and go our separate ways. I put on the chef’s apron she passed on to me; I now understand the feeling of empowerment my mother talked about that comes with this gesture. I begin by seasoning and prepping the roast. Then I start making the largest stock pot of homemade sauce, keeping in mind that there must be leftover sauce for take home. My famous meatballs are next on the agenda; like every nonna, I have a secret recipe for the meatballs. Recipes are usually a combination of ingredients and technique…but there is always more to it; it’s a secret.
I then move on to the salad. All the usual ingredients go into it…lettuce, red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cashews, pumpkin seeds, avocado, feta and dried cranberries. My grandchildren love my special dressing and ask for the recipe. I laugh because I know the secret; I quickly tell them that it’s good olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.
Since my grandchildren were toddlers, I knew that they would fill themselves up with pasta and leave no room for protein. My solution was to serve the meatballs first. I usually watch them load their plates with the meatballs, a little sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. These are followed by pasta, the roast, salad and dessert…all very simple.
I watch them eat as they catch up on the week’s events. My heart swells. My husband usually takes over and serves them the roast. He is overjoyed. My mother always perks up during lunch and quietly takes everything in; she sits among her great grandchildren. Make no mistake – we are a loud Italian family.
What better way is there to de-stress after a hard week’s work than to come home and enjoy a meal with your family. It’s the perfect time to get together and share what’s been happening. You are never judged; you are fed, revitalized and prepared to tackle the week ahead.
Have you figured out the secret? I believe every mother knows. Love! Love is the secret. It is contagious.