by MICHELA VALMORI
Sofia was born in America, but her mom and dad were Italian, from Napoli. She lived happily in New York with her family and her Nonna and Nonno.
Sofia was a cute and sweet young girl, she loved her school, but she enjoyed summer most because her Nonna Anna would take her to the park. There, she swang on the swings and slid down the slides. It was great fun! Sofia had a good friend, Avery. Avery’s family was not from Italy, but the two girls played together every day at the park.
But, the very best part of the summer came right before school started again. Nonna Anna could not take Sofia to the park, because it was time to prepare the traditional tomato sauce! Nonna had received the recipe from her momma, who had received it from hers. In Italy, it was a family tradition! “Sofia, I have to pick the tomatoes from the garden, to prepare the tomato sauce”, told Nonna Anna.
Sofia was always too little to make the sauce, but now she was seven years old and for the first time she could help her Nonna with the tomatoes. “Come here Sofia, you are grown enough now and you can help me with the tomatoes.” Sofia’s eyes shone with delight.
Sofia and Nonna Anna were ready to start.
“We need to clean up the tomatoes, peel them and make them boil, with a pinch of salt and some basil leaves. It will be a very tasty tomato sauce.” They peeled the tomatoes, prepared the jars, and fixed the magic pot. Nonna and Sofia worked together, but each had a different job.
While they were working, Nonna explained the tomatoes to her. “This is so that you are taken care of, all year long, amore mio.” “This is our family tradition, our special way to ensure that we have enough tomato sauce for the year to come, from now all the way until next August, when it will be time for the tomatoes once again.”
“I am so glad that you are big enough to help with the tomatoes,” said Nonna. “I hope that one day when you are a Nonna, you will teach your family to do it just like us.” Sofia was so happy that she could help, and working hard to make the sauce made her appreciate even more how delicious it was!
On one of the tomato days, Avery came over to ask if Sofia could play in the park. “I’m sorry, Avery, I can’t today. It’s tomato time, so it’s just too exciting to do anything else. Doesn’t your family need your help with the tomatoes too?” Sofia asked. “What do you mean?” said Avery. And as Sofia explained the way her family spent all week making the tomato sauce for the whole year, she realized that Avery’s family didn’t do it at all.
“I always just thought everyone had tomato time at the end of the summer,” said Sofia, confused. “Not us,” replied Avery, “but we do have potato time during Hanukkah!” “What’s Hanukkah?” replied Sofia. “You don’t know about it? I thought everyone knew!” said Avery.
So, Sofia and Avery spent the rest of the afternoon teaching each other about their families’ traditions. Although the activities were different, the feelings were very similar: they involved their whole families being together and remembering where they came from.
Later that night, when all the tomatoes were cleaned up and all the jars were put on the shelf for the night, Nonna Anna said to Sofia: “I’m so proud of you, Sofia. I heard you sharing our traditions with Avery, and her sharing hers with you. This is why we do the tomatoes, so we can share the joy with others.”
Tomato time was the best time. The next day, Avery came back and helped Sofia and her family with the tomatoes. And later, Sofia helped Avery with the potatoes during Hanukkah! Both Sofia and Avery knew that they would keep their traditions forever, but they also decided that sometimes it’s fun to start new ones!
You can read it in italian by clicking here