Ciao Italy!

The first thing I saw was a jug of wine on the kitchen table the size of the Detroit Zoo water tower in Royal Oak. And there was barely any wine left in it. That's when I knew it would be a fun night spent with family.

We're Italian---my wife more than I---and we spent a glorious Saturday evening last weekend visiting with aunts, uncles and cousins that we haven't seen in years. Probably not since the last family funeral; that's typically how it goes. It used to be that we saw each other at weddings and baby showers.

We approached the condo of our cousin and I saw the huge jug of wine on the table. More than a dozen heads, some bald and those that weren't, were mostly gray, bobbed in the front room at the dining table.

The food was going, the wine was going and the conversations were loud---mainly because half the folks could no longer hear.

Our family is getting older, and it's somehow up to people our age (my wife is 51 and I'm 50; our daughter is 20) and younger to keep these family gatherings going.

My wife tells of these gatherings and how they happened much more frequently, when she was an adolescent and a young adult. Constant coffee, constant laughter, and just general family warmth. It was commonplace.

Now, many of those people are gone, and the ones who are still alive, are well into their 70s or 80s. In fact, our cousin/hostess is a robust 85. But that didn't stop Mary from flitting from room to room, making sure everyone had food on their fork or a cup of beverage in their hand---or both.

The Italians love their food, and I wasn't in the condo for two minutes before I was waved over to the long dining room table to partake.

No, this wasn't snapped last Saturday night, but it may as well have been

The table was filled with pasta, ribs, sausages, rolls, etc., and I found an empty seat and a plate was immediately passed my way by Mary. We had eaten dinner less than two hours prior but that didn't stop me.

It wasn't so much the food---although it was delicious---that drew me, it was the inclusion with everyone as they talked and swapped stories. I was easily the youngest at the table, by a long shot. The wine carafe begged with its homemade, maroon contents, but I opted for an American beer.

My wife and daughter gabbed with the ladies in the room while dad/husband stuffed his face. In fact, Mrs. Eno took several photos, and in only one of them am I not eating.

Then came the desserts, and the coffee. We brought a coffee cake, in case there was a shortage of dessert.


You couldn't see the tabletop for all the cakes and other sweets that were on it.

Old photos were pulled out, and the stories came. Some of them were clandestine, which of course made them the best of all.

It was our daughter's first real foray into what it's like to be Italian. I had met everyone in days gone by, but Nicole really hadn't. She was too young, in many instances, to remember those that she had met.

Anyhow, our daughter had a blast. She snapped photos and sent them to her friend in New Jersey as they texted back and forth.

The three hours that we were at Mary's condo flew by. Reluctantly we bid farewell.

It was a rather large gathering (20+), as several folks were in town from Pennsylvania for a family reunion in Michigan.

The next day, we visited our cousins' pet shop (they're brother and siter) in Birmingham. He's going to order us our dog's special food from now on, so we're guaranteed to see our cousins every couple of weeks.

"It was great seeing you last night," Jeff said when we found him in the pet boutique on Sunday.



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