My parents visited Thursday through Saturday to attend Ale’s first cooking class at the church and to help Ale move the Yarns of Italy inventory to his new house. The trip fell on their 42nd wedding anniversary, so Ale cooked them their favorite Italian meal on Friday night, a Sicilian specialty that has sausage, broccoli, olives, and cheese baked in a double crust. (Ale will be teaching this recipe at the next cooking class this Thursday at BDUMC).
Although there was a lot of work involved with the moving of the yarn, breaking down and setting up shelves in the new location, and moving furniture in my house, it was a tame visit. My family says almost everything important with jokes, quiet conversation, and light sarcasm. My dad can roll his eyes a certain way, and volumes are spoken.
Ale’s family, on the other hand… well, let’s just say I was nervous when I went to Italy in February because of the passion they bring to everyday conversations. I thought it would be stressful. Their conversations sometimes stress me. There is a lot of yelling involved. Every day. Over Skype. I was really worried about what I would do standing in the midst of it.
Today, Ale brought me my Monday morning Starbucks coffee, talked to our friends that are visiting Thailand (also Ale and Ale), and then his mom called. He began telling her about his foray into Sunday School teaching, and his classes’ “mis”conceptions about the veneration of the Saints, his topic for yesterday’s class. The more his mom asked, the more excited he became, and pretty soon he was yelling, his mom was yelling, and I found myself jumping into the fray with a “you don’t understand that Protestants find it offensive to be told about the usefulness of a ‘middle man'” argument. His dad started yelling from across the room across the globe and said he didn’t know why Ale’s sunday school class was talking about him. His name is Santo, “saint.”
Everyone stopped yelling and started laughing, and it was just like it was around the kitchen table in Italy. And it was just like my family. Take away the passion in communication, and we laugh the same, cry the same, argue the same, and hug the same.
I never thought I’d get used to that passionate Sicilian family style. As I think back on Friday night when Ale, my parents, and I passed around the table Ale’s family’s Christmas eve recipe, I see the reverse image of the night Ale, his parents, and I passed around a table in Torino my mother’s recipe for chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting.
Maybe it’s not so much the style of communication that matters in a family as much as the family style of breaking bread, sprinkled with laughter, around a table.