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Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's our last Year on earth and it didn't start out too good!

     Here we are in 2012, and this is supposed to be IT for us. It’s the end of the world, so do everything you ever wanted to do this year, because it’s over, Sopra, realmente sopra!
       This is how 2011 ended for me and it started with Christmas Eve. Keeping reading and you'll know why I have a picture of a ham. It plays a major roll in this sorted tale. 
     My mom has a huge Christmas Eve dinner. Every Russo including Boyles from her family, appear at our house for Christmas. First the drive-by dinners with so much food we could feed a poor country, then on to midnight mass. It was no different this year accept for one thing, in the past no one died.
     My parent’s house was packed to gills, with relative upon relative. Some stay, others stop in say hello, because not to, is a mortal sin. Everyone brings food. You can’t come without food, another mortal sin. If it’s not food, its booze, the second mortal sin. It has to be one or the other. My great-uncle Carmine Russo walks in the door, carrying several bottles of cheap wine. He’s already three sheets to the wind, his wife is there complaining about her aches and pains, loud enough so the neighbors can hear. Never ask the women even in passing how she is. You get a dissertation on ALL her aliments. All 106.5..Really she has a number for each one. The .5 is for a reoccurring rash.
     Carmine looks at my parent’s pathetic tree, which my mom bought that day, because on Christmas Eve, the trees go 70% off. It looked like a 70% tree, it resembled Charlie Brown’s tree. We’ve been going through this since we were kids, cheap trees all dressed up to try to fake out a expensive tree decorated in the gaudiest ornaments in Jersey. Including the half naked women joke ornaments mom received from her friends. She can’t throw away anything.
        I can hear it now, “What if they come over and don’t see their ornaments on the tree!?”   
      Its okay, mom, no one will miss them, including the friends who probably already forgot they gave them to her. No, wait, they’re all Italian with memories that rival elephants.
      Oh, but I digress, back to Uncle Carmine. He walks in the door, yelling out, Buon Natale, dove è i ravioli maledetti!? (really, you don’t want me to translate) and takes a look at the leaning Christmas tree with a croaked bright blue star, (a gift from Jewish neighbors) points at it, and says, “That’s the ugliest fucking tree I’ve ever seen.”
     My mom yells at him to stop being rude. He gives her a look like he’s seeing God, his eyes roll back in his head, he falls like a tree in the forest, straight forward, hits the dining room table, (he’s a big guy) lifts the end of the table, which acts like a catapult, food flies in every direction. The ham shoots towards me, I duck and it hits my brother, affectionately called Serpico, because that’s who he looks like, smack in the forehead. It had a bone, so it pretty much knocked him senseless. The ham ricocheted off his head and crashed through the front window and landed between Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus in the nativity scene on the front porch, but not before taking out poor unsuspecting Joseph. Old Joe bounced off the porch and hit Delores' new boyfriend walking up the steps and knocked out of his hands a cake he brought from his family to ours. Run, dude and don't look back.
    Everyone is climbing over each other to reach Uncle Carmine, and well, it appears he’s dead. No doesn’t appear, he is dead. There is at least two dozen cops and firemen in the house, they all rush to him and try to revive Carmine, leaving Serpico lying flat out unconscious on the floor. We could all see he was breathing, so that made it okay. My brother Mario tripped over Serpico to reach his hysterical wife. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the newbie’s last Christmas with us.  
      I look for Nona, who’s pretty small, thinking she might get trampled, and there she is holding her ravioli dish. She managed to grab it before Carmine bit the dust. It’s her favorite Christmas dish. It only comes out on the holidays. She did look a bit stricken. Carmine was her last brother-in-law.
    The ambulance comes, and takes Carmine away. As the paramedics come in, they see Serpico just coming to from the assault from the ham, and take him away, with dead Uncle Carmine. He’ll never forgive us for that one. He had to ride in the same ambulance.
     So, there we are on Christmas Eve. Oh, but it doesn’t end there.
    Carmine’s wife continuing to complain about life, her aches and pains, throwing in an occasional moan for Carmine, is on a budget for the funeral. We all pitch in. So what does she buy? A baby blue casket, with yellow silk lining, it looked like discarded old Cadillac. I think it was return or used.
    There lied Uncle Carmine in his best suit, (it was bit snug), draped in rosaries. The man was an atheist. I feared we’d all be struck by lightning as we left the funeral home. The only priest willing to touch this funeral was at least 100yrs old, and retired. We had to pay him off to get him to do it. . He kept stumbling around, and nearly dumped Uncle Carmine and the casket over. That would be the perfect end to the perfect Russo Christmas, end of the year and funeral. 
     Serpico was at the funeral with a big knot on his forehead, black eyes and neck brace, the result of the ham. He looked like he’d rather face down a bad guy in a dark alley with a gun. I can hear it now at the precinct, “Hey Russo, what happened to you? Fall out of bed?”
     “No, you jerk. I was assaulted by a ham, thrown by my dead uncle. What’s a matter with you? Haven’t ever been assaulted by a hambone?” 
       Can't wait to see what the end of the world will bring in 2012. Can't be worse than this, oh but it can because the Russo's will try to find away to stop it from happening. 
      Vederla sul retro,
Stay tuned I haven't talked about New Year's eve... 

I decided to add something to this post, about Carmine. He was my Granddad Russo's brother, and was at my granddad's side when he died in the line of duty as NYPD, when my father was only 16yrs old. He was a young man at the time trying to help out a grieving widow, (Nona) who was left with four teenage boys to raise alone. He was there for my dad and uncles always. Without hesitation, without argument. Carmine is the reason my dad and uncles are NYPD as are two of my brothers, and numerous cousins. For me and my siblings, he was loud, blustery all the time, but was there for our sports and graduations. He never missed anything, including for his own kids. What I didn't mention in that yellow lined, baby blue casket, was his badge and service metals, along with his dress blues that he long since couldn't fit into. So they were folded neatly at his side. He was a proud man we all loved, even when he was at his worse. We'll miss you Carmine...Enjoy heaven, even though you didn't believe in it and try to keep your voice down. The thunder won't be the same for me anymore, because I'm sure if I listen between the bangs hard enough I'll hear Carmine sharing a drink with a few old buddies who passed before him, including my granddad sharing their war stories from the streets of New York City.


  1. Cari, so sorry about Uncle Carmine, but tickled by your tale. You must write a book some day.

  2. You keep saying that...I just might, but my family will never speak to me again. Oh, but that might be a good thing.

  3. Cari I have agree, you need to write a book. I'm sorry for Uncle Carmine, but this story made me laugh until I had tears.