My mom likes to shares stories from her childhood about the bar my great grandma owned in Nigara Falls. How they would close it down for any holiday, and the entire family would stream in. They’d set up tables and the ladies would cook up a feast while the kids ducked behind the bar to devour cherries and olives meant for drinks. Young and old, they would feast. They would celebrate – and the evening would be filled with both drinks and voices raised in celebration.

The children would end up dozing off on a chair, while the Aunts and Uncles laughed, and danced, and remembered the blessings they have.

I come from an Italian family that is large, loud, and loves to party (There are 18 cousins just on my mom’s side). I saw glimpses of it growing up as we would pile into my grandma’s small house for coffee and doughnuts after church on Sunday. Even at a young age – something about it stirred my heart. I saw it in full effect when Matt and I got married and my ENTIRE family flew across the country and closed out our reception hall dancing and celebrating- it was the best party I have ever been to.

I love my heritage and my family, and I am excitedly planning our trip to Italy next year because I want to see the country and culture up-close. I want to spend time with these people who know how to celebrate well. As a busy and bothered American, I think I have a lot to learn from their lingering dinners, coffee filled afternoons, and the connection they have to one another through celebration.

In the meantime, it is my hope that this season of feasts before us would not pass by too quickly. That we would sit, feast, dance, and enjoy the simplicity that comes from sharing a meal and sharing our lives with one another.

Photography of a shared table and beautiful hands by Public Bookstore.