A Lesson I Learned at Christmas

Every year on Christmas eve we went to Grandma’s house for dinner. Grandma was born in Italy and came to the the United States when she was about 18 but she still spoke with a heavy Italian accent. I loved to hear her talk. Sometimes she would put in Italian phrases and I didn't know what she was talking about but she would always explain it to me if I asked. The one Italian custom my sisters and I didn’t like was being greeted at the door with all kinds of kisses and cheek pinching. I think grandma and aunt Mary thought the harder they pinched our cheeks the more they loved us - and we were really loved!!

Back in those days Christmas eve was a fast and abstinence day for Catholics. This meant the three daily meals were supposed to be just small meals. We were not to eat between meals - no snacks - and we could not eat meat. Well abstinence, not eating meat, was ok but “fast” was not part of the Italian vocabulary especially on Christmas eve! So grandma would make this huge meal with all kinds of fish and sea food and pasta with fish sauce and pudding and bread and about eight kinds of cookies. It was quite a feast.

Dad was the only boy in the family. He had five sisters and the whole family got together on Christmas eve. Of course in an Italian family there is a lot of discussion going on all the time. One person would say something another would agree and then they would argue about it at the top of their voices for at least 15 minutes!

Another feature of Christmas eve dinner at grandma’s was that each year one or two of my aunts just wouldn’t be talking to each other for some reason or other. Probably some disagreement in the last month - everyone has to be “in charge” in an Italian family! It took a while to figure out who wasn’t talking to who each year because there was so much “discussion” going on all the time anyway!

I remember one year when about 3 or 4 of my aunts were not getting along very well. This one wasn’t talking to that one and that one wasn’t talking to this one - you know how it goes. I noticed that grandma wasn’t her normal happy self. She seemed a bit sad that year. When she went into the kitchen for something I followed her and asked, “Grandma, what’s wrong? You seem to be sad.” She said in her Italian accent “My children, they fighta - they donna love each other.” All she wanted to make her happy was to have her kids get along and not fight with each other. I guess it’s what most every parent wants.

Do you suppose God feels this way sometimes. He looks at his “kids” - us folks - the ones he created in love. Do you think he says to himself, “My children, they fight, they don’t love each other.”  Maybe he even sheds a tear or two. God sheds a tear? Well the Bible says he created us in his image. Most parents shed a tear when they see their kids not getting along why not the big parent of us all.

The Bible says God first loved us and so that’s why we should love one another. Not for some reward like heaven or some thing we’re going to get out of it, but because we are really loved by God. That kind of love should rub off on us. Maybe we should cut each other a little slack and try to be more understanding and forgiving. And just maybe we should work at becoming a bit more lovable ourselves. Think about it.

copyright © Mike Librandi 2004

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