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Sometimes Money Does Grow on Trees
Page 1 of 2
by Flora Mitidiero Raehl
When I was a little girl, my grandfather (my dad's dad who I called Papa) lived with us. Papa brought his family to America from Alessandria del Carretto, a very small mountain town in the heel of Italy in 1956 — my father was just 21 years old. The coincidental thing is that my mother's parents emigrated from the same small town, so both families knew each other in Italy, but since my mother was born in America, mom and dad didn't meet until dad came to America. Given the history and traditions of the old country, I always wondered if this "chance" meeting was more of a match making effort by both families. In any case, both families lived near each other, mom and dad met, married some years later, bought a house and Papa moved in. According to Papa this was a very traditional Italian family set up with many generations living under one roof. As I grew up surrounded by all these generations living with and near me, I just assumed that everyone else lived like we did. Of course, this wasn't the case with my American friends, but oh how all the rest of my Italian family and friends embraced this way of living!
Growing up, Papa would tell me stories of the old country, ensuring me that the more I knew about where my family came from, the more I would appreciate my ancestors and being Italian. We would sit in the living room on Sunday nights watching Lawrence Welk, his favorite show, and he would compare American music to the music of his little village. Every chance he got, he would talk to me about his life in Alessandria comparing it to his life in this new country. One of my most precious memories, though, is of our Christmas traditions and my yearly Christmas gift from Papa — a money tree. Every year I would open all my presents on Christmas Eve, a very Italian tradition for us, and once all the boxes were unwrapped and toys and clothes were strewn everywhere, he would come out of his bedroom with a booming smile on his face and present me with a large tree branch (probably from the back yard) with dollar bills tied to each branch, mostly ones, some fives, a few tens, and way up at the top of the branch, the coveted twenty dollar bill. He was so proud of this gift and I think he was as excited about giving it to me as I was to get it. But at the end of the night the tree AND the money would disappear with the explanation that it was being put in a safe place. I didn't like that I couldn't keep this most special gift but I was a kid so ....
Money Tree - Circa 1965
Article Published 4/1/11
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