I am 30+ years removed from living in Brooklyn. You see I became "enlightened". Working class family, attended BTHS, college educated, Vietnam veteran, and over achieved my way to a successful business career. Along the way I moved to the fashionable Southwest, married a successful ballet dancer, raised a family, divorced the dancer and now I reflect on Christmas past. Grand midnight masses as an altar boy at OLPH. Mother creating braciole, meatballs, ravioli, manicotti, and other Italian delicasies for Christmas day dinner. My mother, a first generation Italian, who desparately wanted to be treated as an American, distanced herself from her heritage. "We are Americans", she would say, "We'll eat American food!" But on Christmas, all that was forgotten. The smells from our small kitchen in our small apartment would begin on Christmas eve, garlic, tomatoes, sausage, oregano. That smell was every bit as special as the presents under the tree.
We would have to fast to receive communion at midnight mass on Christmas Eve so when we got home from mass, my sister and I would be very hungry. To slake our appetitie, mom would take fresh Italian bread, dip it in the "sauce", and sprinkle some Reggiano Parmigano cheese on top. Ecstasy!
Why is it now, as a 55 year old man do I reflect on such times? Mortality? I don't know. I do it because it is comforting.