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Outside of an Italian Family
Tim, Age 16, River Forest, IL

The Christmas lights hanging from the houses across the street can barely be seen through the snow from the third floor apartment window. I can hear the clinking of forks to plates and glasses to the long wooden table where everyone was sitting. It was Christmas time at the Nowicki’s, and I have been invited to celebrate the holidays with them. As soon as I got out of the car the excitement started. I was walking down the parkway on Marion and saw one of the Nowicki boys slip on the ice and let the gift he was holding fly into the air. Immediately his brothers began laughing, and even his mom was laughing at him. I was hesitant to do anything because I didn’t know him very well so I helped him stand up before I said hello. The family I was with, along with the Nowicki family I walked in with carried bags full of presents and pans full of food. We took the old, slow elevator up to the third floor and took a left toward apartment 3c. As soon as I stepped out of the elevator I could hear the yelling and loud greetings and I could tell I was with a real Italian family. I could smell the thick aroma of gravy, pasta, and garlic bread cooking in the kitchen. I walked through the door and saw what seemed like a hundred people, that all looked at me, yelled a hello and embraced me as one of their own. I got hugs and even kisses from complete strangers, and instantly felt as though I was a Nowicki for the night.

It was time for the cousins to eat so I followed them into the kitchen and saw a pan of freshly cooked pasta about three feet long and covered in meat balls, Italian sausage and gravy. One of the little kids couldn’t seem to lift the serving spoon so he pulled as hard as he could and the spoon came loose and he flung pasta and gravy all over the walls in the kitchen. Everyone except for Nana laughed because she was the one that had to clean it all up. We ate our food around a giant white table that was covered with spilled rigatoni from the little kids. The food tasted even better than it smelled and I, along with almost everyone, went back to grab a second plate of equal size. I finished eating and thanked Nana for the food and she gave me another kiss on the cheek. I went and sat down to watch some television and in an hour or so, one of the little kids runs into the room, tripped and fell, got up and yells, “Guys guys come on it’s time for us to open present s.” I got up and followed the cousins to the living room and grabbed a seat on the floor next to the fire place which was burning bright. I watched the kids give and receive their presents from their secret santa and then the adults gave out their presents to their secret santas. That was maybe one of the most entertaining half hours of my life. One of the uncles made signs for every other adult that he would hold up when it was their turn to give out presents. The signs made fun of the other adults and every single saying made me and everyone else in the room laugh. The adults finished handing out their presents and a conversation about politics spread through the room. It was my cue to leave when the adults started to get animated and yell at each other. I went back into the T.V. room and sat on the couch to enough a classic Christmas movie, “How The Grinch Stole Chirstmas”. One by one the little kids started to fall asleep on the couch and the younger families started to leave. It is a tradition in the Nowicki family for the older boys and the uncles to play cards into the early hours of the morning. Most of the conversation in the card room was too inappropriate to be said again, but I laughed as hard as I had ever laughed in my life.

The Nowicki family reminded me a little of the “Godfather” family, the Corleones. They are both very close knit, through huge parties, trust one another, and talk louder than any other family I have ever spent time with. I guess they seem like a typical stereotype Italian family, but it’s real and they love each other and that how they act.

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