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Old Fashioned Snow Days
As a child growing up in the Chicago area, nothing was more exciting than waking up in the morning to get ready for school only to find out that mother nature had granted an overnight gift – the much coveted snow day! What could be better than lounging all day in your comfy pajamas, snuggled under your favorite blanket, dunking cookies in a nice cup of coffee (yes, as a child I drank coffee) and watching morning cartoons that you didn't get to see because you were in school. My father never understood how I could be excited at the thought of so much snow that an entire city could virtually be shut down, because as a child in his hometown of Alessandria del Carretto the thought of a lot of snow would send the residents into a panic. You see, living in a mountain village, far away from any real city, winter life was actually very hard. Dad's house in the mountains didn't have a furnace, just a fireplace in the kitchen fueled by chopped wood stored in il maggazino. When he was very, very young, indoor plumbing was as primitive as you can imagine and there was no "corner grocery store" that you could run to in a pinch. So I guess I can understand why massive amounts of snow would not hold the same appeal to the people who live in the mountains of Calabria. The longer my father was away from his hometown, the more nostalgic he became for the old days in the old country. Much of my childhood was spent hearing stories of what his life was like compared to the way I was growing up in the States and oh how I loved hearing those stories!
For someone like me who's grown up with all the conveniences of a modern city, the idea of being snowed in on a mountain top is exciting and frightening, all at the same time, and I feel a great sense of pride in my ancestors who not only survived such challenges but thrived as well. But I shouldn't be so surprised, because it was this strength that gave them the courage to leave all that they knew to start a new life in a new country. I can only hope that they were as excited about their new world experiences as I am every time I go to Alessandria – maybe even telling a story or two about me someday!!!
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