When Rich and I got married, we hated to split up this holiday, since it was so meaningful for both of our families. So we decided to take over and have both of our families along with our extended family and friends join us. Since Rich's family doesn't follow the same fish tradition, we combine the two cultures and make traditional Lebanese Christmas favorites as well. It's a group effort, and that's what makes it all the more special. Some years I've even catered some special things from none other than, you guessed it, The Brownstone. Our home quickly became an “open house” -- all are welcome. Over the years it has grown to be a multi-cultural and multi-religious group gathering. The last time Teresa and Joe Giudice were at my house for Christmas Eve, Joe was remembering Christmas Eve as a kid, when everyone would get together and dance. Rich immediately cleared our living room furniture, cranked up the music, and it was like Studio 54 at the Wakile's. Young and old were up and moving, the kids had a ball. That's got to be one of my favorite Christmas memories.
There were a few years however that we didn't celebrate our annual gathering at Christmas Eve. Those few years were very dark for us when we suffered the loss of Rich's father and then the following year we lost my dad. I guess that's why Rich and I try to embrace the happy times and try not to get caught up on insignificant matters. Grudges, pride, or ego have absolutely no place in the family dynamic. We would rather cry about a few misspoken words during a quarrel than shed tears of regret for years that you can't get back. I guess I also learned that early on in life.
“History has a way of repeating itself.” I think that no truer words have been spoken. It's our history that makes us who we are. Embrace our traditions, learn from our mistakes, so we don't repeat them.
When my mother starts to share a significant Christmas Eve memory, I can't help but get emotional. I remember how emotional she was when she came home that day. It had hit me so hard, that I was determined to try to make things better between the two families. So the next day on Christmas, I asked my older brother to join me in paying a visit to my Uncle Giacinto's house. We wanted to talk to him and try to resolve this petty disagreement between him and my dad. Although I was nervous I was determined to end their feud once and for all. I wasn't sure how he was going to receive us, but he welcomed us with open arms.