As I work today at my retail store two weeks before Christmas in these uncertain times , I am struck by the need of many to cling to traditions. I am hearing from many clients that they are holding back on spending and gift buying this year with good reason. This is an extremely difficult Holiday season for so many of us, like nothing we have experienced.
I, for one, am very thankful for my Italian, family traditions more than ever this year. We gather together with extended family and make ravioli. We start on a Friday a few weeks before Christmas by making the filling which consists of spinach, sourdough bread, cheese, eggs, parsley, olive oil , and lots of garlic. The next day, we gather (approximately 50 of us) at a cousin’s home with a wonderful large kitchen , to assemble the ravioli. There is a dough making station, then the dough goes to one of about eight rolling stations. We take turns rolling the dough out to a paper thin sheet. We then place spoonfuls of filling at one end of the dough, fold the dough over the filling, and cut each ravioli individually, using ravioli cutters collected through the years many of which were purchased at antique shops from far and wide.
This process goes on until lunch, at which time we break and prepare enough fresh ravioli to feed all. Another cousin has made the gravy ahead , another a wonderful salad, and someone brings the best, fresh, french bread from a local favorite bakery. Desserts seem to appear in abundance and the wine begins to flow. After this most magnificent meal we continue to make the ravioli until all the filling is gone. We net enough ravioli for each family to freeze and serve with Christmas dinner. It is a wonderful tradition on so many levels.
Many of us travel far to participate in this great day. We reconnect with relatives we don’t see often enough. Then there are the children! There is almost always a new baby to fight over and I thoroughly enjoy watching the little ones attempt to make the ravioli. They quickly become experts with perfect advise from the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Even reluctant teenagers become immersed in the process. It is a tradition I love and cherish.
The diversity in our Holiday traditions is reason to celebrate and my wish for all this Holiday season is that we can find a moment to embrace the traditions that make our Holiday special.