Family Reunion in Canberra

There is a joke running around Facebook at the moment, that poses the question: What advice would you give your non-Italian partner meeting your Italian family for the first time?

The hundreds of answers are all correct. * They are not arguing, they are always that loud. * Everyone talks with their hands. * Learn to conduct several conversations at once. * Don’t fill up on the lasagna, it’s just the entree (that was Bill’s rookie mistake). * No, they did not cook a banquet for you. This is the normal amount of food for a family dinner. * Everyone is related. * The Goodbyes can take as long as the visit.

I was twenty-five before I met my father, and I met Bill a few years later. So, even though I am half Anglo-Oz, he has never known me not to be a part of an Italian family, and he has been a good sport about it. He welcomes having such a large family. Last weekend was one such example.

Our cousin has come from Italy for a four month visit to her 97-year-old mother who lives in Canberra. So we, my two sisters and stepmother booked a hotel room for two nights. So did one of our other cousins and his wife who live in a country town. Most of auntie’s descendants live close to her, so our forty-eight hours was a waving tide of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And it was a lot of fun.

First up, a lunch for fourteen at Contentious Character, a cool-climate winery just north of Canberra. Sitting at the far end of the table, Bill and I caught up with a first cousin once removed that we hadn’t seen for twenty years. We got on so well with he and his wife (his teenage son didn’t get a word in – but he probably preferred that) that by the end of the afternoon, we had everyone at the other end wondering what was going on.

Here’s a few photos, starting with the outside scenery:

My glamorous visiting cousin playing up to the camera
My sisters and I in more conservative mode

Two sisters from a generation up, My auntie and stepmum:

Table chaos
Whoever was listening when the call went out for a group shot.

And finally, Bill demonstrating his great capacity for patience … he’s squinting into the sun, not saying – are we leaving yet? Although, come to think of it, I have seen that expression on his face before …

Perhaps one of the secrets to her longevity is my auntie’s great love of poker (slot) machines, so after booking into our hotel, and a short rest, it was off to a club for a light dinner and amusement, before starting all over again the next day.

29 thoughts on “Family Reunion in Canberra

  1. Pingback: Floriade Canberra 2022 | The Reluctant Retiree

  2. I recognize the description of the Italian family from my daughter’s in-laws! We can always count on them for the quantity of great food and the long goodbyes. And the way they joke about their Italian “characteristics” hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gwen – looks like this was a happy, enjoyable reunion for you with your family. In all my visits to Italy as a solo traveler, dinner is always the most difficult, being surrounded by large Italian families! I agree that the multiple courses can be too much food – especially for one person. During the last trip I frequented a restaurant where one of the waiters felt so sorry for me, he found the perfect table not to feel conspicuous and read every thought from needing a digestivo 😦 to extra napkins for wiping the olive oil dripping down my chin. The last visit was in Sicily where I believe you said your father was from?

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    • Yes. My father was from Caltagirone. I visited there a couple of times. Once, back in 1980 when I had first found him. I was in Italy and he was in Sydney, but his sister and her family were still living in the family home. A very small rental. Bill and I returned about ten years ago. It was being renovated by the owner then. A very interesting pilgrimage.


  4. What a lovely family reunion, Gwendoline! I have not been to one since I was 14 years old. It was on my uncle’s dairy farm.

    Is everything alright with you after your procedure? Wishing Bill a belated happy birthday, too.

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  5. This is so lovely. I think it’s marvellous when people make the effort for family get-togethers from far and wide. I have cousins I’ve never met, but my daughter gets on really well with hers. We were all in London over last weekend for my sister’s 60th and the youngsters joined and enjoyed the celebrations. Mind you they were under strict instructions at the birthday lunch NOT to tell the restaurant nor sing Happy Birthday. My sister is currently learning Italian, but as you can see she is not embracing the expansive, all inclusive lifestyle. However, we would both love it to discover we had some Italian relations. Lucky you.

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  6. Oh my goodness, Gwen! I could have written this practically word for word. In fact, I wrote a story about the first time I introduced Bill to my closest Sicilian relatives … all 26 of them! Talk about a culture shock for him but he found they were all loving and accepting.

    Liked by 1 person

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