I wasn’t sure what to expect of this Christmas. I have never been so poor, so reliant on others, so desperate for help during a holiday season. I have also never been completely without my own family. Even last year an invitation stood, although I did not accept. Jaxon and I had just returned from a harrowing trip to Geisinger due to his extreme asthma symptoms two days before, and I was happy not to travel, and not to be expected to put on airs for people I despised also , while they “Ooohed” and “Aaaahhed” over my children while also tsk, tsk-ing and whispering not so quietly to each other, “Soooooo…..who is the father….??”
This year they didn’t even bother with the invitation, even though they knew I would not take it. Snubs all around, apparently.
I was elated therefore, if apprehensively so, when Mr. Anderson invited me to dinner at his Aunt’s house on Christmas Eve. When he said, “Trenton,” I assumed he meant the Trenton in the state that we live in, Trenton, PA, about 3 1/2 hours away. He did not. Then, when he said that it would be a “traditional” Christmas dinner, I thought he meant turkey or ham, duck at the very most extravagant. He did not. I hadn’t realized that my very Blonde-haired, Blue-eyed Beau might have descended from…Italians. Roman-Catholic Italians, to be more clear.
And so, early Christmas Eve morning, we embarked on our journey to NEW JERSEY [FIVE and a half hours away], in order to celebrate Christmas the “traditional” way–with Calamari, Lobster, Mussels, Shrimp, and various other delectable seafood dishes that were nothing short of gourmet…except that I haven’t the slightest taste for seafood, and not a clue HOW to eat it to boot.
This apparently wholly uncultured girl has never heard of “The Feast Of Seven Fishes”, which is a traditional Italian-American Christmas Eve Celebration of God’s Promise of the Messiah Through Baby Jesus.
But, boy, did I get learned.
I watched in awe as they cracked through lobsters and chewed through squid and scraped and slurped through a bucket of mussels. I know my face gave me away a couple times, but I did try everything on the menu, to be a good sport.
These had to be the nicest, most welcoming, non-judgmental, kind, accommodating, thoughtful, gracious, considerate, and loving people I had ever met. They felt bad that I didn’t eat seafood! Ha!
When Aunt Sue told me that I was a “trooper” for having endured the 600 mile round trip “just for” dinner, I felt like telling her that it was a cakewalk compared to spending 3 hours with MY ‘family’ on Christmas Eve.
But even more than that, it wasn’t just something that I tolerated….THIS Christmas Eve rivaled anything I had ever experienced before. These people genuinely loved each other, they had an enviable rapport, and everything seemed so easy and fluid…it was as if I had been dropped into a perfect sitcom. They accepted me unconditionally, were overly attentive and also as friendly as could be…made me part of the family immediately and easily, as if it were meant to be…I was amazed and enchanted at the same time.
I can only hope that I will be bringing them children next year, because these are the people I want my children to be raised around.