This Holiday Season I’m channeling my inner Attic Elf and while I’m playing White Christmas on a continuous loop on my CD player, I want to tell you the inspiration behind my favorite family, The San Valentino’s of Manhattan,
My parents split when I was an infant and both remarried. My parents are of Irish extraction, my stepmother the same. My stepfather, though, was first generation Italian/American. This made for some memorable Christmas get-togethers during my childhood.
Christmas Eve was usually spent with the Italian relatives, starting at around 4 p.m. with the first course of the Feast of the 7 fishes. Every hour on the hour for 7 full hours a different fish course was served by my Sicilian-speaking-only step-grandmother.And with every course, a new bottle of wine would be served, so that by the time my mother, stepfather and I left, most of the relatives were gluttonously full and three sheets to the wind drunk. It made for many an interesting evening, especially when they all started spewing in Italian just so my mother and I couldn’t understand what was being said. (P.S. most of it was about us!!!)
Christmas day was always spent with Irish relatives, starting with Midnight Mass Christmas eve,( and yes, we traveled to them as soon as the last fish course was finished on the Italo side.) and culminating in a day of drinking and eating. And when I say drinking I mean it in the purely alcoholic sense. Unlike with the stepfamily, my mother’s family consumed more booze than food. And they started drinking earlier, too. Like noon early. There would only be two courses for dinner, which was usually served at 5 without any food before that, because my Irish grandmother didn’t want any of us to spoil our dinners and eat too much before the meal was served. I never understood how she didn’t equate the falling asleep drunks at the dinner table with the lack of food to sop up the afternoon booze. By seven p.m. most of them would be passed out in various lounge chairs and couches, the Yule Log blasting Christmas music in the background to drown out the yelling coming from the kitchen where my mother, her mother, and my aunt would be fighting about….anything and everything.
From the time I realized my family was different from all the other families in my school I started asking Santa for a different family every year for Christmas. The number one item on my Santa wish list was : a family that didn’t fight, drink, or yell. I think I actually wrote that for eight years straight. When I never got the family I wished for, I stopped writing it down.
But I never stopped wishing for it.
It wasn’t until I was married and made my own family that my wish turned into my reality.
When I wrote my very first Christmas romance, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, I invented the family I wished for as a child. The San Valentinos are loyal and loving and they do fight – but only in the best sense of the word because they fight for each other, not against one another. I got my wished-for family twice: One, I married; the other I created.
A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Gia San Valentino is the beloved baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family. Family dramas, passion, and food rule the San Valentino clan, and Gia takes it all in stride, her family the touchstone of her life. But with Christmas fast approaching she longs for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to are all wise guy wanna-bes, with old world views on women – the pregnant and barefoot kind – just the type of man she’s trying to avoid.
When Gia lends a helping hand at her neighborhood parish’s Christmas Festival she meets a guy who has all her requirements for perfect-man status. Tall, sweet, good looking, and from a big Italian family of his own, it seems she might finally have found a man she can give her heart to. When a miscommunication has her believing he’s the new parish priest, her happily-ever-after hopes evaporate because he’s the proverbial forbidden fruit.
Or is he?
Question for Readers: Do you come from a Big family or a small one? I’ll be picking one reader who comments to receive an e-copy of A Kiss Under The Christmas Lights. Comment in the comments section and let me know!!
And please visit these wonderful author blog sites for more Christmas in the Highway Cafe fun!
Holland Rae – https://hollandrae.com/
Susanne Matthews – https://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/
Sorchia DuBois – www.sorchiadubois.com
Mariah Lynne –
Tena Stetler – http://www.tenastetler.com/category/my-say-what-blog/
Maureen Bonatch – http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/
Peggy Jaeger – https://peggyjaeger.com/
Barbara Burke – https://barbaraburkeauthor.wordpress.com/
Kelly Kalmanson – http://kkweil.blogspot.com
M.S. Spencer – http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com
Hywela Lyn – www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com
Reggi Allder – https://reggiallder.blogspot.com/
Denyse Bridger – http://www.fantasypages.ca
Clair de Lune – https://clairdelunebooks.co.uk/
Karen Blake-Hall – https://kaydenclaremont.wordpress.com/
Casi McLean – http://casimclean.com/a-christmas-to-remember/
Darlene Fredette – http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com
Daryl Devore – http://daryldevore.blogspot.ca
Gini Rifkin – http://ginirifkin.blogspot.com
Linda Carroll-Bradd – http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com