Josephine Castellano was preparing her traditional Italian-American Christmas Eve dinner – seafood and lots of it. Her large dining room would be filled with 26 people this year, all family, except for one. Her son, Tony, was bringing his new girlfriend to dinner. The family had never met her. All they knew about her was that her name was Elizabeth Williams and that Tony wanted her to join the family in their holiday feast. |
“Hi mom, I want you to meet Liz,” Tony said.
"What a sweet looking girl," Josephine thought, looking at this petite blonde with big blue eyes and sweet smile.
“Hello, Liz,” Josephine said. “Merry Christmas and welcome to our home.”
“Merry Christmas to you, Mrs. Castellano, and thank you for having me.”
"Oh, she’s very polite," Josephine thought.
Elizabeth insisted on helping set the table. After the plates, glasses, napkins, forks, and knives were placed on the table, Elizabeth put out the salt and pepper. She then opened the refrigerator and reached for the ketchup.
“What are you doing, dear?” Josephine asked.
“I’m getting the ketchup,” Liz answered.
“Well, some people like ketchup on their meat.”
“MEAT!” Josephine exclaimed. “Italians NEVER eat meat on Christmas Eve!”
“Why not?” a perplexed Liz asked.
“Well… er… it’s a custom. I think it was a church law long ago.”
The calamari, mussels, lobster, shrimp, clams, and eels were placed on the table along with the antipasto, salad, pasta, and various vegetables. Liz’s eyes widened looking at all the food.
“What is this? All this seafood? I hate seafood, Tony.”
Josephine held her breath.
“Honey,” Tony said, “I told you that we were having seafood.”
“Oh, you did? I guess I forgot,” Liz replied.
“Dear, eat the spaghetti,” Josephine said.
“Oh no, there’s seafood in the sauce,” Liz answered, twitching her nose.
Josephine swallowed hard.
“How about the vegetables?”
“What is that green stuff?” Liz asked.
“Oh, you mean the spinach?” Josephine asked through clenched teeth.
“What’s in that spinach?”
“Olive oil and garlic. Why don’t you try some?” Josephine suggested with a forced smile.
“Oh, yuk!” Liz replied.
Josephine’s hands were trembling.
“Honey, try the broccoli. It’s delicious,” Tony said.
“Oh no, broccoli is just not my thing. Oh, well, I’ll just eat some salad.”
Everyone looked uncomfortable as Liz sat there nibbling on her lettuce, refusing to try any of Josephine’s holiday meal and being so obviously rude. Josephine tried hiding her displeasure, but it was apparent to all (except Liz) that she was quite insulted.
The table was cleared and everyone was looking forward to dessert. The table was filled with every kind of sweet you could possibly imagine. While the family members were all devouring the delicious treats, Liz sat and sipped on her coffee.
“Liz, I’m sure there’s a dessert here that you would enjoy,” Josephine said, proud of the cakes, pies, and cookies that she and her sisters baked. “Mostly everything is homemade.”
“Oh no, no, no, it’s all just so fattening. I can’t imagine anyone eating that junk. I’ll just eat an apple. I’m watching my figure.”
By this time, Josephine’s face was red, her eyes were blinking rapidly and her entire body was shaking.
“Hey, Liz,” Tony asked, “why don’t I take you back here tomorrow for Christmas dinner?”
“What will you be eating?” Liz asked.
“Lasagna, of course!”
“Lasagna!” replied a flabbergasted Liz. “What, no turkey? My God, all those calories and the high cholesterol. I won’t dare eat that fattening stuff!”
No one in the room was fast enough in grabbing Josephine before she dumped the tray of Italian pastries over Elizabeth’s head and smeared a cannoli in her face.