We have a tradition in our family for Christmas. Every Christmas day we have a big Italian dinner with homemade meat and cheese ravioli’s. From as far back as I could remember, my mother and father would set up their stations at the kitchen table and neatly wrap the ravioli’s. My siblings and I would gather around them and help fork the edges so they closed tightly. Festive music played in the background, smiles swept across our faces and anticipation stirred in our bellies. No store could come close to the greatness of our ravioli’s. My father would say, “No one would pack them like we do and hope for a profit,” it just would not make sense. At the end of the ravioli making fest we collect the scraps and boil them to make homemade noodles.

This year was almost the year without ravioli’s. My parents are older now and the process is a bit too much. It takes a long time to make the fillings not to mention all of the dough. “I think this year we will just buy ravioli’s,” my mother declared. It was as if someone announced there would be no more ravioli’s forever. None of us could fathom not tasting our ravioli’s. “Well then we will just have to make them ourselves,” my older sister called out. “Yeah, I agreed, we can’t eat someone else’s ravioli’s, we have to have our own,” It is not because we are spoiled and will not accept anything less; we couldn’t imagine breaking the tradition. Even though, we were all saying we would make them, in some subconscious way we were hoping my mother would change her mind. Then it dawned on us, she really is older and it is too hard for her. It is difficult to accept that our parents have slowed down and we need to step up to the plate if we want to keep traditions alive. Watching someone else do all of the hard work is always easier. We put a plan in motion and shared the responsibilities, instead of one person making everything.

We gathered at my parents’ house and sat around the table. They were there with us, but it was their turn, to sit on the sidelines and observe. I looked around for a moment and snapped a mental picture that I hope stays with me forever. It was never about the ravioli’s. It was about family. Making the ravioli’s was just the excuse for our family to sit around a table for hours, laughing, singing, and occasionally arguing. Deciding not to make them would have ended a chapter too soon. Our ravioli’s are still the best tasting in my book but I realize now it’s because I know first hand just how much love went into making them.