My mom grew up in Franklin Square, New York, a "small" town on Long Island not too far from the city. She and her sister are the daughters of immigrants. My grandmother came over from Belgium when she was a teenager and my grandfather was off the boat from Italy. My grandmother died when I was very young so I don't have too many memories of her. Memories of my grandfather are sharp and crisp.
My mom's sister, her husband and my two cousins stayed in new York and made a home for themselves further out on Long Island. My trips to their house have a very special place in my heart. My aunt still lives in a small bungalow house from which some of my fondest memories were made. My cousin and I would put on these elaborate shows in the basement, mostly for our own entertainment, but we would force all of the adults to come watch us perform our renditions of "The Sound of Music," which I am sure was more along the lines of "The Sound of Catterwauling." But the adults were more than tolerant of our shows in the basement of one of my favorite houses.
Times at my aunt and uncle's house include so many memories of my grandfather. When my grandfather sold his house in Franklin Square, he moved in with my aunt and uncle. Most of our visits included my grandfather. Although he was a "snowbird," (making the annual winter pilgramage to sunny Florida) every Thanksgiving and Christmases we spent with my aunt and uncle my grandfather would come home from Florida to join in the festivities. My mom's side of the family created many wonderful holiday memories at my aunt and uncle's house.
Every visit began with a bag of the best bagels on the planet ~ all soft, warm and chewy. There are no substitutes for New York bagels, piled high with lox and cream cheese. The bagels were always followed by the appearance of the pink box. My grandfather would show up in the kitchen holding the pink box to squeals of delight.
Everytime I saw the pink box I knew something delicious was waiting! My grandfather would go to the same Italian bakery every time and pick up dozens and dozens of cookies and pastries. My mouth still waters at thought of the delicate Italian, cookies contained in those pink boxes. Cannolis, black and whites, pignolis, aniseed cookies...all flaky and buttery and delicious ~ all flowing out of the pink box.
Every time I see Italian cookies and pastries I can't help but think of my grandfather and the pink box. There is a place here in Richmond, not too far from my house, that ships the same Italian cookies I know and love in from the Bronx. I have brought them home to my kids and heard the same squeals of delight escaping my children's lips. It is a wonderful sound to hear and brings my grandfather's love of his Italian cookies to my own children.
As my children get older and older my desire for them to have a strong connection to their grandparents grows stronger and stronger. I want our family to be able to pass down stories and memories of special times ~ a legacy.
It brings a smile to my face to think of the pink box ~ I guess it's my grandfather's legacy to me. I couldn't think of a better way to remember my grandfather ~ The Pink Box.
Oh, for the love of my children...