Should Odd Acquaintances be forgotten…

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

When I was a child growing up in Drexel Hill, New Year’s Eve always seemed somewhat kooky to me. My parents would go out, my aunt would go out, my brother as usual was no where to be found but most likely hanging out at one of his friends house and I, as the youngest would get stuck with my grandparents!

At the ripe old age of 5 I knew something was up with the pots and pans!

At the ripe old age of 5 I knew something was up with the pots and pans!

At the young age of 5 years old I realized that this holiday was a hot mess. Let me set the scene. The house is dark, the grandparents are passed out on their respective couches, I am laying on the floor in front of the tv half sleeping, it’s pretty quiet with the exception of my grandmother’s snoring – then all of the sudden, the Big Ben clock that my grandfather sets on alarm goes off at 1 minute before midnight. They jump up, scare the crap out of me, run into the kitchen, grab pots and pans, and a few spoons – come running back into the living room, wake the rest of me up, hand me a pot and a spoon, and proceed to run outside so that we can “ring in the new year.” The entire neighborhood is sleeping, and we are outside – the odd group of acquaintances (because let’s face it, I really don’t know these people…) and we are banging pots with spoons and making noise.

Now, most people would have noise makers, but not my grandparents – this was a revolutionary idea, “who needs to spenda money on noisea makers;” my grandfather would say.

The next year knowing the routine at 6 years old I pleaded with my mother to let me stay at the neighbor’s house. When the answer was no anxiety set in, I’d been down this road before with the New Year’s Eve celebration. What exactly was I celebrating anyway and why for god sake where we outside in the freezing cold on the porch banging pots and pans? I’d ask and they’d reply in their broken English accents; We a celabratin da Newsa Year, Catolina. “What grandmom, please in English;” I’d say. Sadly again, they would try to explain to me exactly what and why. Yet, I still couldn’t figure it out but I knew there had to be a greater meaning behind their pots and pan noisemaking tradition.

Finally it struck me down; it was Guy Lombardo’s fault! He was Italian and that gave them the instant winning lottery ticket to bang pots and pans, make noise and treat me to the most absurd rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

The grandparents before they were married

The grandparents before they were married - in the 1920s

Ok, so let me set this tradition straight in your head just in case you can’t get the vision. They were Italian, they were singing a Scottish folk song and trying to pretend they had Scottish accents. Now my unscientific survey says that they had no clue as to what the heck they where singing about, but I will tell you that one of the most hysterical mental pictures of my early childhood is embedded in my brain, no, seared really, the recollection of seeing my grandparents on the front porch of their home in the dark on New Year’s Eve singing with Guy Lombardo holding pots and pans, dancing around and smiling at me – I guess they were having fun? As for me, well let me just quote them; “Shoulda odd acquaintancesa bea forgottono anda nevera broughta to a minda anda daysa odd angs eye. Yes, it didn’t make any sense to me either.

Lombardo gave them the rights to sing along automatically. I am giving myself the rights to laughing so hard right now I find myself weeping, it’s ok, you can too.

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life

I can thank my brother for telling me about this movie in 1985 and taking it out of the Capra Corny Vault. "It's classic," said my brother, he was so right!

My vision isn’t the last scene in Frank Capra’s glorious film; “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when the entire family is standing around George Bailey and George is thanking Clarence the angel for setting him straight and little Zuzu (George’s daughter is smiling in her dad’s arms saying; “every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings,” then the entire clan starts singing “Auld Lang Syne,” no it’s nothing like that at all but let’s ask ourselves the questions as they are stated in the lyrics of the poem written in 1788. Should those we knew and loved be forgotten and never thought of? Should old times past be forgotten?” No, says the song, they shouldn’t be. We’ll remember those times and those people, we’ll toast them now and always, we’ll keep them close. “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet.”
Happy Newsa Year’sa Even! (that’s half Italian for happy new year!) Thank you for being in my life and allowing me the opportunity to share and thank you grandmom and grandpop for the great material!


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