By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
Christmas Day 2013 dawned brightly with snow. We tossed clothing into our bags, fastened them shut, and downed a quick breakfast before we headed to Saint Monica Church for Christmas Morning Mass. The church was breathtaking in its Christmas glory: The large Nativity surrounded by trees graced the Blessed Mary Alter. Red and white Poinsettia abounded in the Sacristy, on the Saint Joseph Alter, and in the alcove of the Pietà. Our Christmas spirits uplifted, we returned home to hastily load the car with Christmas presents for my brother and his family. We patted Fellini, Coco Chanel, and Shelton Rae, our cats, goodbye after their hearty Christmas breakfast. They then settled down on their favorite blankets for long Christmas naps.
The sun shone and we played Christmas music during our two-hour-plus drive. We sang along with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, Rosemary Clooney, and Michael Buble as we traveled over the river and through the snow. Hugs and kisses abounded as Frank, Kelley, Daniel, newlyweds Lauren and Justin greeted Anjelica and me. We quickly distributed stocking stuffers to respective stockings. My brother’s food company is now making delicious Lobster Bisque, which we had for lunch. I certainly ate mine with gusto!
We gathered in front of a cozy fire in the family room with the live Christmas tree. Arranging ourselves around the sectional sofa, the overstuffed side chair and ottoman, Lauren donned the Santa Claus hat, for she would distribute the gifts to each of us one by one. Kelly, however, had us each draw a word or phrase from a particular Christmas carol. We had to string the verse together and that determined the order in which the gifts would be given. We each open the gift Santa handed out one at a time. Over Christmas mugs of homemade hot cocoa, we oohed and ahhed over the presents. I was thrilled with a touchscreen digital Crock Pot, which will now force me to plan meals ahead. Anjelica loved her Vera Bradley brightly colored duffel bag. Frankie received an IU quarter-zip, pocketed pullover from me. My gift to Kelley was the Marc Jacobs Daisy Holiday gift set. Daniel already had plans for his JCrew gift card. Lauren was pleased with her Williams-Sonoma gold touch square baking and loaf pans. Justin was all smiles when he opened my gift of a very fine bottle of single malt Scotch.
Later that night, we sat down to a beautifully decorated table to share my mother’s homemade ravioli and recipes. Although I have made The Ravioli, Kelley now graciously makes 200+ ravioli for us for Christmas Day. Anjelica and I made Mama’s famously moist fudge and our favorite biscotti. My brother has become something of a wine connoisseur, and we imbibed hearty wines that night. We talked and laughed and reminisced as we celebrated Christmas. My family is dear to my heart. Celebrating Christmas with them I count as one of the greatest of blessings.