October 6, 2015
How did this happen? Sono una Nonna! I am a grandmother of a beautiful little sweetheart named Magnolia. Life will never be the same.
When you are Italian-American, you revere your grandparents, your nonni. As children you realize that these people are the bosses of everybody, even your Mom and Dad! Wow, they are powerful. They can tell Dad what to do!
And they are different somehow. Their Italian heritage made them even more mysterious.
Who would disobey these people?
Or God forbid, this one? She is Tough!
And no matter how scary or tough they were, I was never afraid of them. Behind the strong façade of these nonni were hearts stolen by their grandchildren. Yes, they would scold you. Yes, they would yell at you in Italian and in English. But then they would hug you, kiss you on both cheeks and give you pizzelle (Italian waffle cookies) or biscotti (Italian sliced almond cookies). What could be better?
Being a grandparent now is not the same as what we experienced as children. Our grandparents were closely tied to “the old country” and carried those ways with them. Two or three generations later we are more assimilated into the American culture.
We do not all live within a mile or two of each other anymore. Most grandparents do not see their grandchildren every week. Oftentimes extended families dine out when together now. We do not always experience that time in the home of the elder, eating her cooking, smelling the aroma of the fresh basil and garlic in the cucina (kitchen), helping prepare the meal and taking our time about it. Life is hurried now. We are in a rush.
As a child, time with our grandparents was not measured in minutes but in affection and interaction. Even at the home of i nonni Ricci, the Ricci grandparents, on Sunday after mass we all got attention from Nonna (grandma). She talked to each of us (sometimes 20 or more children visiting) and fed us a treat herself. Nonno (Grandpa) Ricci would play music or sit outside with us and let us feed scraps to the dog. We got to know more about our grandparents because we had more time with them.
I never really thought about becoming a nonna. I was fine living alone and having a grown daughter living in another state. I traveled when I wanted. I decorated my home to suit me, not kids. I had glass cabinetry everywhere and sharp edges on imported furnishings. Everything was uniquely mine and definitely not child friendly. I loved my stuff. I thought it made me happy.
Now, I actually just completed a week alone with my 4 year old granddaughter while her mother was away on business. I live in a home where nearly all glass is absent. No imported wood tables are on site. And toys litter the floor like boulders after a volcanic eruption.
PlayDoh was stuck in my carpeting and in my hair. We baked cookies together and made our own peanut butter cups. It was a mess and we laughed and laughed. I hugged her so much this past week you would think we were attached at my lap. We danced and sang together in the living room. I hummed the music of La Tarantella Napoletana as I hooked arms with her and spun her around. We did the rocking horse step too before she fell on the floor laughing. It was the best.
I don’t travel quite as much these days because being away from mia nipote, my granddaughter, is difficult. So for my latest adventure in Italy my daughter and granddaughter accompanied me. Seeing Naples, Rome and our Ricci Family home near Benevento through the eyes of a 4 year old gave me an even deeper, richer travel experience. I am ready to go again. Would you like to join us? Andiamo! Let’s go!
Ciao for now!
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