This Christmas was a little more special than usual because it was the last one we’ll spend at my parents’ house. It’s the house they built and moved into 48 years ago, when my brother was just months old.
As we stood in the kitchen for the dinner prayer, my mom got choked up and then all the rest of us got choked up. The kitchen was so crammed with all of us “kids” and our own kids, and in a flash, I saw myself when I was Vincenzo’s size and Rocco’s size and Leo’s size, standing in the kitchen saying a prayer together before a big meal, celebrating whatever holiday was on hand. I all our past selves there in a mash-up of 70s, 80s, and 90s, and I saw us all standing there in real time. The kitchen was suddenly even more packed than it actually was, our past and present selves all linking hands and saying a prayer to bless every minute that brought us to this current one. It is so hard to think of leaving these walls that held us all together, then let us go—this house that gracefully welcomes us back home whenever we turn up the drive, whether we’ve been gone for an hour or a year.
This house we are leaving heard so much over the years. It listened to our arguments, to our family game nights, to our clumsy clanking on the piano. It listened to babies crying and giggling and to the bleep blurp of 80s video games. It heard us say I love you and I hate you. It heard us whisper our prayers to its ceilings at night, and it heard the secrets we told our friends behind closed doors. It patiently listened to long phone conversations about nothing at all. It heard us sing happy birthday again and again until we disappeared one by one, and then it listened as we returned with little babies of our own, adding their own cries and giggles to the mix, adding even more rounds of happy birthday to its soundtrack.
I’m sure this blog post isn’t doing anything to help my parents handle their emotions as they prepare to say goodbye, but our little house deserves its place on this blog. My childhood was beautiful and the scent of homemade bread followed me everywhere, but my childhood was also challenging and sometimes I had to escape from it. But home was always home, and there was always love to be found.
My parents will be moving to another house they have built (or have had built, more accurately) in the same town. They will fill it with the same photos, the same china dishes, the same people, and the same smell of baking bread. We will say our prayer in a different kitchen of this different house, and we will be amazed at how similar it all feels.
But we will always feel a loyalty and love for the house that helped us to become the family we are today.
I have to say, I did not start out planning to write about this today. But it’s here now so it must have needed to be here. Maybe after all these years of being listened to, I have finally learned to listen, and today our house needed to be heard.
Goodbye, big little house. And thank you.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Green beans with lemon and garlic
Chocolate chip cake with passion fruit filling, chocolate espresso crumb, and mocha frosting