FFTFL premiere

FFTFL premiere

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Pandamonium

I am one of seven children. My parents were good Catholics! The birth order is 1 boy (52 years old), 5 girls (51, 49, 46, 43, 40 (that's me, the baby of the girls)) and 1 boy (35). My brother John was a senior in high school when my brother Ralph was born (they're named after our grandfathers). Needless to say, being that my mom was 41 when he was born, and there was 5 years between us, he was a "surprise!" The 2 boys live 20 minutes away from our parent's home, while the 5 girls all live within 10 minutes. Most Sundays, you'll find 4, 5 or 6 of the 7 kids (with THEIR kids) at our parents house, having rolls and bagels after 11:30am mass. Shockingly, we all get along pretty well, almost all of the time. Let me put it to you this way, we haven't ever NOT talked to one of our siblings. I think most of us are too scared of confrontation, so that's probably why!

This is back in the day! Probably 1990. That's me in front, 2nd from the left, with what my brother refers to as my "Flock of Seagulls" hairdo!
We're a big (mostly) Italian family, with some Puerto Rican thrown in thanks to my Grandpa John, who came from a town outside of San Juan. He lived with us until he passed away in 1980, but I learned zero Spanish from him, :( His "stuffing" recipe is what we have had every single year that I can remember. (I use the word stuffing loosely because other than the fact that it gets stuffed inside the turkeys (we need 2), it bares no resemblance to a traditional stuffing). The recipe has to be 70 years old, at least. Let's just say that this stuffing is an acquired taste, and it's also not too easy on the eyes. I am with my husband almost 21 years and last year was the 1st time he tried it, that's how unappealing it looks.

See what I mean?
So, it has all sorts of chicken innards (Dad has since omitted the liver since we pretty much ALL pick it out), ham, green pepper, onion, green olives, capers, crushed tomatoes, Sofrito and the wet, squished bread that a lot of stuffings use. When you put it all together, magic. It's delicious. When my husband and I went to my friend's wedding in New Orleans, I had gumbo or jambalaya there (it was 11 years ago, you expect me to remember which one? LOL) and it tasted VERY similar to this stuffing. That doesn't surprise me since Creole cooking is a blend of French and Spanish influences.

This stuffing is what we all look forward to on Thanksgiving. My husband is the only in-law that has not been converted. HOWEVER, my mom takes the leftover stuffing and turkey and makes an out-of-this-world turkey soup with it and he LOVES it. He just CAN NOT get over how it looks in its original state. The rule in our family (except my younger brother) is we all are at Thanksgiving. No switching off every other year with your in-laws allowed. My mother-in-law didn't appreciate that too much, but, Christmas Eve was always their holiday and I never veered from that schedule, so she became ok with it.

When we get together for Thanksgiving there's a few less because my brother celebrates with his in-laws. Anyhow, when we celebrate our Christmas, another day agreed upon the week after Christmas (usually 1/1), the grand total, counting my parents, 7 kids, 6 in-laws, 14 grandchildren and my niece's fiance, there's 30 of us. Insane, right? Last night I told my sisters that when our nieces and nephews start having children we're going to have to have a raffle to see who gets to celebrate Thanksgiving (or Christmas) each year. I pictured us all in a room, holding little red tickets, an emcee at the front, calling out the lucky ticket numbers...people going home crying because they'll be home that year. So funny! Or, we can have Thanksgiving together, but different seatings, like they do at restaurants for Mother's Day brunch. Half of us eat at 3pm and the other half at 7pm. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!  
This is the "adult" table, with just some of the noshes. There's a young adult table next to it and then the teen/kids table is in the kitchen. My sister's 1st floor is pretty much converted into a mess hall for the day!
We have such a good time together. I always wanted a big family because I have such incredible memories of growing up in mine. I thought I'd have 6 kids, but once I had my son and daughter, both somewhat difficult pregnancies (weight-related issues), plus realizing how expensive children really are (the cost of living on long Island doesn't help), we decided we were done. However, my kids have grown up with their cousins, so they're almost siblings. The holidays may be chaotic with all of the cooking, the cleaning, the organizing and arranging, (the expense!), but none of us would have it any other way. We're just grateful to be together, all of us, one more year.

Playing Taboo with the crowd. Lots of tears from laughing shed while playing!


  1. Sounds like you know what a blessing you have in your large, happy family! :)

  2. Wonderful story of your great big amazing family. I always wanted a big family, but it was just my brother and me, my dad had two siblings that lived on the west coast (1,500 miles from us), and my mom was an only child. I only had ONE cousin. So holidays were small affairs, but we always celebrated BIG!

    Now, with 3 boys of my own, 2 of whom are married with families, my family isn't huge, but it's bigger than it used to be. LOVE holidays and all of us getting together, and even though we grouse about each other (out of ear shot of the grousee, of course), we all love each other and get along really well, and usually have a great time, playing board games or cards after the eating is over.

    You are smart to realize you should enjoy those holidays when you all can be together, because things change over the years, and people pass away, and you miss them forever and it's never quite the same. But because of those wonderful holiday memories, you never ever forget them!

  3. You are so right about missing those who are no longer with us at the table. My mom's parents were a huge part of our lives growing up. They lived only 3 blocks away and we spent every Sunday afternoon with them. Grandma would whip up enough food to feed an army with just a few ingredients, and there usually was a small platoon, considering it was my family and my 2 aunts with their 6 kids. My grandma always said, while pointing to her 3 daughters and 13 grandkids, "Who needs money? I'm rich!"

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