Wednesday, September 16, 2009

7up and Meatballs: Or How My Family loves food

(rough draft for an English essay, let me know what you think. its supposed to be a narrative)

    Most people see a 7up can and remember being sick. Of  drinking it with crackers and staying home from school. Not me. When I see that familiar green can with the red dot, I always think of Sunday.
    Every Sunday growing up, my brother and I always had a very light breakfast. Maybe some cereal or eggs but absolutely nothing that would spoil our appetite. We would rush to get dressed because we couldn’t wait to go to our grandparent’s house. My mom and dad would drive us the short distance to my Gramma and Papa’s. I could always tell if we were the first there by the noise level. If it was only the tv, I knew we had beaten my cousins. If I heard loud talking and laughing, my older cousins Joanna and Jackie were there with my Uncle and his wife.
    I would always hurry my parents to help me out of my car seat, or when I was older, unbuckle quickly and run out as fast as I could to the open front door. I would always search out my Gramma for a special hug and kiss and see what she was cooking. After I would find my Papa outside in his garden and give him a hug and kiss. He always would pinch my cheek with middle and pointer finger like a claw, smiling and telling me he loved me.
    My aunt Laurie, who was 10 years younger then my mom, still lived with my grandparents, so her room was always the next stop. I would tease her about her Elvis posters, ask when her boyfriend Danny would be coming over, and would just sit and bask in how cool she seemed to be. I was the youngest grandchild and always treated like a little princess, which was in fact my nickname. I loved the privilege of hanging out with my ‘cool’ aunt. I used to look up Lice (find under ‘Louse’)  in the set of World Book Encyclopedias and show her. I would pretend to show something else but always ended up with the up close, black & white picture of the louse which would completely gross her out.
    My mother and other Aunt would begin to set the table for the 10 or 12 people who would be eating hours before we ate. They would set the table and then talk with my Gramma about who she saw at church, what was new, and the local gossip. When the Spaghetti was ready everybody would be called to the table. The huge bowl of steaming homemade spaghetti with meatballs, sauce we called gravy, lamb on the side, and grated cheese in bowl were set out and we all took our places.
    Where we sat was set in stone. My Papa was at the head of the table with my Gramma to his right. I always sat next to her and my brother and Aunt Diane were directly across from us. Next to me was Aunt Laurie, then my Mom and my brother Phillip. Across from them and using the other end of the table were my Uncles, his kids and wife and my Dad. It was a lot of people and elbows were always bumping as we reached for more gravy, cheese, and napkins. The rules were no loose hair while we ate, mostly directed at me and my long brown hair that shed everywhere, and no nail polish. I am not sure why this was but my Papa didn't like it and none of us dared showed up with it out of respect for him.
    I would keep asking for the gravy so I could put a ton on because I couldn’t wait to soak it up with the Turano bread I loved. More than the homemade meatballs and tomatoes sauce (made from the tomatoes my Papa grew in his garden), there was one thing I loved the best of all. It was the 7up. Monday through Saturday I was only allowed milk, juice, or water. No pop allowed at all. This was a rule I followed even when my family was out of sight (which wasn’t often but still) and so Sunday was so special. I would clap my pudgy hands together and be so excited to be handed a glass of ice and the cool refreshing 7up. I would greedily drink the first few sips, savoring the bubbles and crisp taste.
    After the spaghetti, more courses would be served as the used dishes would picked up by the women of my family. We would be served chicken breasts, roast beef, Italian sausage, grilled zucchini, roasted red peppers, and other dishes made with love by my Gramma and later my Papa. After he would retire, he would begin to cook most of the meals since it was a passion of his. He loved to make everyone their favorites dishes as a surprise and I was also excited to the special roasted potatoes he knew I loved. He made special chicken for my mom and roast beef for my brother. There was also a salad with pil and vinegar dressing that remains my favorite to this day. With so much food and being allowed only one can, I would start to savor and slowly sip my precious pop, wanting it to last for as long as it could.
    After dinner, the men would gather to the living room with the younger kids and the woman would start the clean up process, trading off dish duty every week. When I was old enough I would help by wiping down the table and later sweeping. I felt like a grownup the first time I was given the task of washing the dishes.
    Whatever sports game was on, my Papa was laying in front of the living room table with a pillow where he might watch the game or take a nap. I might go join my Gramma in her room to watch my own tv shows or nap in the big comfy bed with the peach comforter. My  Gramma would save me the Sunday comics from the Tribune and I would read my favorites like Brenda Starr and Peanuts until it was time for coffee and dessert..
    Stelladora cookies, coffee, and Entenmanns chocolate donuts would follow with more talk until the sun would start to set. More clean up followed by my sleepy eyes and we would all get ready to go home. Leftovers packed for everyone and Hershey’s chocolate bar given to all the grandkids and Sunday was over. Hugs, kisses, and goodbyes were never sad because we would see each other in a week, if not sooner.
    From the time I was born until I was 21 this was my life. Husbands came and went in my family, including my father but no matter the cast of characters, Sunday was time for family. My grandparents house was a warm place that was special to visit and always a treat.
    Im 26 now and two weeks ago my stepfather picked up my Gramma and brought her over for Labor day. My mother, stepfather, Gramma, and I sat around the table, eating the barbecued ribs and potato salad my mother made. We laughed and talked and all ‘secretly’ snuck food to my dog Bella when we thought no one saw.  As we cleaned up the table and put everything away, I couldn’t help but smile as I threw my lone 7up can in the recycling. Some things never change.
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1 comment:

Mandy said...

My whole entire family used to do Sunday dinners at my great grandmas house and then later my grandparents. Thanks for that memory.