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The Journal Publications will be operating remotely effective Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Mar 31, 2020

Local Italian-American Leaning on Food, Faith and Family During Pandemic

Submitted by Candice Guardino

Family dinners are different now.

This past Sunday, my mom dropped off a tray of eggplant parmigiana at my doorstep and shouted from the street, “Eat it before it get’s cold!” I shouted a “thank you” from my open window. Now, yelling back and forth at each other is nothing new for us. It reminded me of when I was a kid visiting my grandma in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and growing up on the south shore of Staten Island. But something I won’t get used to is having Sunday dinners alone without the big family gathering.

Is this how we see each other now and share dinner? Is a drive-by, a distanced walk, a Zoom call and a FaceTime chat the new way of being together? I appreciate these mediums exist at a time like this, but I don’t think it’s something I can ever get used to.

In the midst of these uncertain times, all everyone wants to do is be with family. We want to laugh with them, hug them, have dinner with them, and mostly be around them because with family, we feel safe.

Growing up in an Italian-American household, a Sunday dinner all together was just as important as going to church. Our loud dinner table. The adults at one end and the kids at the other. The flood of food that would keep coming to the table. The one relative yelling at you to eat because you look too skinny. The gossip. The straight forward adult conversations about life and the smack I’d get on the back of my head from my grandma for listening in. I can’t wait to get back to it all.

Social distancing is hard for all us. Well my mom is kind of OK with it. Let me be clear, she’s upset she can’t physically hug us and cook dinner for everyone. That’s killing her. But, for an Italian mother, she always wants to know where everyone is at all times, and now she does. We’re all home.

There’s an “F word,” I think about in moments like these, and it’s not what your thinking. OK, it’s a little of what you’re thinking and I’ve been saying that word since birth. However, the true word I keep clinging to is faith. I was brought up to believe, like many of us, that God gives you has much as you can handle, and with faith by your side, you will make it through. We will all make it through.

So, I’m social distancing and sending all of you a ton of faith and love to know that this too shall pass. Lastly, let’s send out all the love and good thoughts we can to those working in the medical fields who are standing at the front lines of this pandemic. We pray for you and thank you.

To all: Stay healthy. Keep your faith. I can’t wait to see everyone again!

 

Candice Guardino is a local writer and actress whose plays have shared her experiences as an Italian-American with audiences along the Jersey Shore.