I sadly decided not to make the trek home for Christmas this year, choosing instead to spend the weekend with Brian and his family in Memphis, TN.
While we had a lot of fun, no matter how great a Christmas away from home can be, there are of course always things that you will miss from your own family and friends.
In my family we do not make the focus of the holiday, the gifts, which can so often overwhelm the Christmas season. Instead we enjoy the time that we spend together cooking, and lauging, before we have to pick up and make the most of another year. However, there is one gift that we always seem to look forward to. Angela Aiello (my long-time friend and a someday-to-be sister-in law) has a tradition of making amazing Christmas sweets. Each year she, and her talented team of her mother and two sisters create beautiful Italian cookies and chocolates. Then, each year, they give them to my family in a rather professional looking, doily lined, little white paper box. They could easily be mistaken as purchased from some high-end gourmet shop like Dean and Deluca or Emporio Rulli.
This year, I was day dreaming about those sweets and hoping that Angela was able to make them again this year even if I wasn't able to enjoy them, when I got a note that a USPS package was waiting for me in the mail room. I wasn't expecting anything, so I thought it might have been a mistake that I was notified instead of Brian. I thought that maybe he had ordered a pair of shoelaces (which he has done) and forgot to mention it. I went down to get the box and saw that it was from Angela.
At that point I knew.
I keyed open the box as I walked, dropping Styrofoam puffs, like little bread crumbs, as I went back up the stairs (only I kept stopping to pick them up).
When I got back into my apartment I dumped out the puffs to find that special white box intricately wrapped inside. There was more packing materials and a lovely note. Then five little collections of sweets, each wrapped perfectly in plastic wrap so that there was no question of freshness after their journey.
As I looked in awe at all the little piles, I decided to open the Cuccidati (Italian fig cookies).
I ate two, savoring the crunchy pastry, the sweet icing and the moist, fresh figgy filling.
There were nutty butter cookies, dipped in dark chocolate,
and chocolate candies filled with caramel, and some with almonds, and some with both.
There were almond cookies dusted in sweet powdered sugar.
Each was still a perfect creation after a 3000 mile ride in a box, handled by the ever so gentle US postal service.
I still can't believe that Angela sent these all the way here.
I'll be enjoying these day by day, and maybe letting Brian have a taste or two...if not, he can always read the blog.