Today was the annual Italian Festival in downtown Reno. There are numerous ethnic festivals throughout the year here, celebrating the Hispanic culture, the Greeks, and more, but the Italian festival is the last big street fair event of the year before the town rolls up the streets for the long winter ahead. In my 5 years here, the event has always been lucky enough to have had a simply gorgeous Fall day, and today was no exception. Before you even park the car you can smell the garlic and food preparations and hear the music. There is of course a ‘best of ‘ cook-off for sauce, and fresh pesto is being made from one end to the other with giant vats of sauce bubbling up and down the street, all competing for the honors.
The smells are nothing short of heaven.
My father was a first generation Italian and the Italian side of my family was how we leaned . It was large and wonderful, teeming with Aunts and Uncles and a small army of cousins. Family mattered when I was growing up as a child and nearly every Sunday was spent at Gramma & Grampa’s house. I have nothing but wonderful , sweet memories of that part of my youth. Gramma spoke hardly a word of English, though it didn’t matter to her or us. Her goal was to make sure we were fed as often as possible before we left her house in spite of my mother’s protestations of, “Ma, they just ate! ”
There was always room for another bowl of my Gramma’s pasta.
I have only two dear Aunts left now, and all but one of my cousins. Sadly, I hardly ever see any of them, and when I do it’s to hear of yet another passing of these lovely people who made up such a big part of my young life. I’m sad to have grown so distant from my cousins and regret not being in touch as we now grow older.
They say every journey begins from home. I ventured out into the world as a young adult very confident of who I was and where and who I came from. I had a solid home base as a launching pad in life. I had a culture and a family with a history to relate to. They gave me so much by simply being there. I’m sorry that so many are gone and I no longer have the opportunity to thank them for that. And if they were here, I would let them all know, that family mattered – very much.
(featured photo , canvas collage – WISH YOU WERE HERE , by Catherine Massaro)