Lisa M. Scuderi-Burkimsher was born and raised on Staten Island, New York. She is currently involved with online writing groups and a fiction book club. Her flash fiction story “The Big Duke,” was published in 2015. Her book “Shorts for the Short Story Enthusiasts,” was published in 2018. Lisa resides on Long Island, NY with her husband Rick and her dogs Lucy Lu and Breanna Sue.
When I was a sophomore in high school, my history teacher showed us a film during Hitler’s reign. The graphic film gave me nightmares for over a week. In great detail the atrocities of the Jewish people were in front of my eyes. Bodies of loved ones were dumped into a pile as the families were forced to watch in the cold, emaciated and near death themselves. The scene of women standing naked outside, holding their hands over their private areas was appalling. Not long ago I read that some women would cut their skin and use the blood to give them coloring. That was what Hitler had done. It didn’t matter that some were German, his own people, it mattered that they were Jewish. I can’t fathom a person having done such harm. In an article it said that he loathed the Jewish population because they took away jobs. We’ll never fully understand or know what was behind his madness.
As a child, on Easter Sunday, my mother had my clothes neatly pressed laid on the bed. My wardrobe consisted of a light knee length dress, normally sky blue or ivory, with white socks, and white patten leather shoes. She’d tie a light blue ribbon in my hair and hand me rosary beads to place in my tiny white purse. Then my parents, brother and I went to church. I had been too young to understand the importance of the day. All I cared about was getting home to my basket of chocolate and toys. After mass we’d go to my grandmother’s house for pasta with simmering tomato sauce cooking on the stove and a rack of lamb with fresh garlic hot in the oven. It filled the room with a delectable aroma. Year after year we continue the same food tradition, not the wardrobe, and spend it with family. But this year may be different…
I’ve seen movies about it and even wondered if it could happen, but to live it, is surreal. Easter is April 12th. Will we be with family? Will anyone be able to spend it with their family or go to church? With Covid-19 aka Corona Virus across the world, who knows?
‘Saint Patrick’s Day,’ is a jovial holiday in my family. As a child, my mother dressed me in green bell bottom slacks, an itchy wool green sweater, topped with a long green coat, shamrock pin and then shipped me off to school. One year, when I entered the classroom, my friend asked me if I was Irish. I answered no. She studied me and then asked why I wore green clothes. I told her it was fun. I had no idea why I wore green or why we celebrated this holiday. All I knew is I couldn’t wait until dinner to eat corned beef and cabbage. I wasn’t a fan of corned beef, but I enjoyed the cabbage and boiled potatoes. I still smell the aroma in my parents kitchen.
I’m not a cook and when I tell people this, they can’t believe I’m Italian and cannot make a plate of baked ziti. Sure, I know how to make tomato sauce and meatballs, (if you call them meatballs,) but other than that, ask me to cook something else and we’ll probably have to call for takeout. So, to be frank, I never cooked corned beef and cabbage. There’s a diner near my home and my husband and I go there every year for the Saint Patrick’s Day meal.Also, before my mother-in-law passed away, she had us over on the holiday and cooked us a delicious Saint Patrick’s Day meal with homemade Irish soda bread. I taste those sweet raisins in my memory.
There are many different beliefs regarding “Valentine’s Day,” and the most popular one is the celebration of love. When it became commercial; buying boxes of heart shaped chocolates and red roses, is irrelevant. I want to share with my readers why this day is so important to me.
When I was young, every year my father would come home with a box of chocolate for my mother and a beautiful card that she’d tear over. (A bit dramatic for my taste, even as a child, but I wasn’t the one reading the card and at the young age of seven, I didn’t care to.) My father would also buy me a little gift. One year he bought a little heart nick knack and I loved it. I kept it on my dresser and the red clashed with my pink bedroom walls. When my brother got older, he’d buy my mother and me a card and gift. The year he gave us both a porcelain nick knack of a little girl wearing a white dress with long braided blond hair holding a red heart against her chest, I hugged him and had been so thankful. I still have that porcelain girl today. Even at that age, those gifts had more feeling than chocolate or flowers and that’s when the day became special, until it became more so when I met my husband…
A close friend of mine asked what Little Christmas is. I answered that it’s called the “Epiphany,” and celebrated on the sixth of Januarywhen the three wisemen followed the star to Bethlehem in search of baby Jesus to worship and present him with gifts. She then asked why the wisemen followed the star and presented offerings to Jesus. I had no answer. I need an answer for my friend, or I’ll seem dense. I wouldn’t expect her to know being of Hindi religion, just like I don’t know anything about her religion, which makes me want to research it now. Getting back to the point–
New Year’s Eve had been a big event in my family. Every year we’d pack up and travel to Long Island spending the holiday at my aunt and uncle’s home with a house full of loved ones. Although I lived in Staten Island, New York at the time, and my cousin Christy lived in Long Island, New York, we were nonetheless close. We looked forward to New Year’s and when it was over, we’d count down the days until the next New Year.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the abundant amount of food we eat on Thanksgiving. In fact, I look forward to it every year. It’s one of my favorite holidays. But it’s more than just the food.
There are two reasons why Thanksgiving matters to me. The first reason begins when I was a child, we spent every Thanksgiving at my grandparents house in Brooklyn. My Sicilian grandmother barely spoke English and my grandfather had always been a quiet man; however, once the whole family with cousins, Aunts and Uncles were in the room, it had been a festive event of chortling and great food in a tiny apartment with one bathroom and approximately twenty-five of us.
A dear friend of mine passed away from breast cancer and I’d like to write about her experience and how we became friends.
My husband and I met Maggie and her husband Ray at a neighbor’s barbecue in 2005. We immediately clicked. I don’t know what it was about Maggie, but I found myself confiding in her. Concerned about my horrible experience on September 11, 2001, she understood my fear of driving and not mingling much with people. Twenty-four-years older than me and she offered to do my grocery shopping. Of course, I couldn’t accept. This was truly a kindhearted person. I’m sorry after that barbecue we didn’t speak again until 2011.