By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fast approach, I am reminded of a tradition in our family, or at least one of my father’s. The other evening as I poured the last vestiges of a Pinot Noir into my wine glass, I stood the empty bottle upright, looked long and hard at it, and began to smile. The bottle evoked memories of Christmases past in my mind’s eye.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, family, friends, and vendors would come bearing gifts of alcoholic refreshment to my father. The liquid offerings consisted of primarily liquors, in particular Anisette, Amaretto di Saranno, Fra Angelico, and the occasional Peach Schnapps. Others bore bottles of Canadian Club, Royal Crown, Jim Beam, with a brandy thrown in for good measure. Most evenings, after the table had been cleared, the dishes washed, and the leftovers stored away, my parents would sit in their cozy living room.
My father would inquire of my mother, “Kitty, you wanna shot?”
Invariably she replied, “Yes, Ciccio, that would be nice.”
I would be pressed into service as family bartender to pour them each a shot of their choice – Anisette was a favorite during the Holidays, with Amaretto di Saranno vying with Fra Angelico for a close second. With great deliberation did I select the shot glasses. My personal favorites were the etched glass pedestal ones.
My father carefully cleaned and stored the empty liquor and whiskey bottles. He delighted in giving gifts to family and friends. Since he was a master wine maker, he tapped into a huge oaken barrel and filled each of the cleaned empty bottled with his hearty dry red wine. He annually made his wine with only a variety of grapes from the Napa Valley in California. Family and friends eagerly looked forward to his cheery smile, his broken English greeting of “Hiya! Merry Christmas! How you are?”, as he handed them a bottle of wine in one of his bottles. Though I was unaware of it then, my father was light years ahead of the recycling movement. While I do not make my wine, I do recycle the empty bottles in the bin provided by my town, and I do give gifts of wine at Christmas.
Dad would be proud.
Ciao for now.