I just recently returned from a trip back east, and when my husband, Tony, and I arrived, the weather was still sticky hot and we blasted the air conditioner in the car! The weather remained like that for two days, and on the third evening as we were driving back to the hotel from dinner, I rolled down my window and stuck my head out with caution. That's because I still have tapes playing in my head of my mother yelling me not to stick my head out of the car window because a garbage truck would hit me and take my head off! After I checked to see if the coast was clear, I deeply inhaled and immediately I could sense a change in the air—very subtle but definitely a shift in the universe. I turned to Tony and I said, "I can smell fall in the air!" Sure enough, the very next day the temperature shifted downward.
I love everything about the fall: the leaves changing, wearing big sweaters and wool scarves, eating hot soup by the fireplace and making plans for the holidays. The holidays sneak up on you so fast—every time I turn around, its Christmas again! That's because the first commercials for 25 percent off your Christmas purchases have already been playing on television since the middle of September! What's up with that?
Okay, so two things happen to me in October. The first is I anticipate the warm and fuzzy feeling I get with the cool—soon to be freezing—air coming down from the North and the "fun" I'm going to have shopping for food and gifts for the holidays (if I can find parking).
Second is the absolute panic that sets in because I am now facing the upcoming holidays, finding Halloween costumes that keep changing, several kids' birthdays, trying to be supportive and not get into the drama in the dorms at my daughter's college (that never works, I always have to fix things) and planning the meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's while coming to terms with why Italian and Greek families (I'm Italian and my husband is Greek) have so many aunts, uncle, cousins! By the end of October, I am only imagining my time in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of coffee and a carrot cake.
Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I always call all the women in my life, including my daughters, to make sure they are up-to-date on any new information on breast care health and to make sure their mammograms are up-to-date. This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of early breast cancer detection. Make sure you are up-to-date with your mammogram and be aware, stay aware!
I also learned recently that October is National Italian Heritage Month. (Who knew?) So of course I have to be a part of that and celebrate and take pride in famous Italians like the master artist Michelangelo, Christopher Columbus, who changed the course of history, all the way up to today with the first house minority leader and the highest-ranking woman in Congress, Nancy Pelosi.
So I must take a moment here to take the time to honor my grandmother and grandfather, who came over to this country looking for a better life, bringing with them their traditions and their deep love and devotion of family. Some of the earliest and most memorable moments of my life were built around the family dinner table, where magic happened every night. Sitting down with family and friends and enjoying unbelievable meals that I still remember to this day (I thought everyone ate like that) and feeling so happy until my sister and I had to dry the dishes, take baths and get ready for bed. I wanted the feeling of sitting down at the dinner table to last forever, and you know what? It has!
I'm going to prepare a huge meal with my sister and daughters and invite the family over to celebrate and pay honor to the memory of my grandfather, grandmother and father. We will prepare all of our traditional dishes and raise a glass of wine in their honor.
I'm going to share with you my recipe for the classic Pasta with Meatballs and Silky Marinara Sauce in honor of National Italian Heritage Month—and not just any meatballs. I went through maybe 20 pounds of ground chuck and subjected my family and friends to actual taste testing, giving them sheets of paper so they could rate the meatballs like they do on Dancing with the Stars. I have to admit, I took great liberties to come up with my own version of the perfect meatball that turned out be light and super moist. My grandmother would take issue I'm sure, but if she were still with me and tasted them, she would be proud!
As November quickly approaches and we get closer to Thanksgiving, I will share tips and secrets on how to help avoid stress while preparing for the big Thanksgiving feast!
Sending "Big Bowls of Love,"
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 5, 2013