Over the next several days, Linda’s family tree grew to fill her entire poster. Nonna was thrilled with the task and and spent her evenings with Linda checking through her old letters and photographs for names and dates. Nonna was still strict and sometimes quiet and distant, but she at least seemed happier than she had so far. She even had some authentic Italian recipes and one night when Mom got off of work early and after Joey came home from football practice, she treated them all to pizza. It tasted even better than Linda remembered. Mom helped her fill in her side of the family on her poster that night, and finally she was satisfied with its completion. She still wasn’t sure what she would do for her creative project, though. She thought maybe she could make a recipe book like Emily, or a photo album like Susan, but neither of those things seemed quite right.
She sat next to Nonna on the sofa, looking through more old pictures. One of Nonna and Grandpa looked recent. “When was this picture taken, Nonna?” Linda asked.
“Ah, that was just last year,” she said, looking sadly at the picture of her husband. “At the Feast of San Gennaro.”
“Tell me more about the Feast of San Gennaro, Nonna. I have never heard of it.”
“Ah, it is a wonderful celebration every year in September,” said Nonna, perking up. “San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, you know. I was born in a village just outside of Naples. Each year we would celebrate with a great feast. When I came to New York, there was no feast, no celebration. A few years later, though, when Little Italy was filled with other Italians, someone decided it was time to continue the celebration. It grew as time went on, and now it is a great festival! There is food and music and great festivity! I myself have sung a performance each year! This is the first year I will not be there,” she added.
Linda lay in bed that night trying to picture the festival her grandmother had described. She could almost taste the zesty Italian food and hear her grandmother perform in her best opera voice. She was about to doze off when her eyes popped open and she was struck with an idea so forceful she felt as though lightening was coursing through her body. She knew exactly what she was going to do for her creative project. She knew exactly how she was going to finish building her relationship with Nonna. Both problems had the same solution. Emily was right–she could solve the problem.
The next day at school, she joined her friends on the front steps before the bell rang. She had apologized to them a few days ago for her negativity and they had forgiven her without question, as real friends do. Linda was so excited, she could barely contain herself as she explained her idea. “I need your help, though,” she added when she was finished. “Please.”
“Of course,” exclaimed Molly.
“Anything!” added Susan.
Emily just beamed.
The following Friday, Mrs. Littlefield’s class presented their family trees along with their creative projects. Molly’s map was neatly drawn and labeled with the hometowns and countries of her various ancestors. Emily’s recipe book was detailed to perfection. Howie presented several complicated diagrams of how the engines in the automobiles had changed with each generation of his family. When Linda finished showing the class her completed family tree she said, “I don’t actually have my creative project with me.” Mrs. Littlefield raised her eyebrows and Linda quickly continued. “What I mean to say, is that you will all have to come experience it tomorrow morning.” Linda began passing out invitations to each of her classmates that read:
Come celebrate the Feast of San Geranno, the patron saint of Naples.
Experience authentic Italian festivities, just like those of Rinaldi family tradition.
When: Saturday, September 16th, 10 am-12 pm
Where: Molly McIntire’s backyard
Why: To celebrate Italian tradition and to surprise Linda’s grandmother with a taste of home!
“My grandmother lives with me now,” Linda explained to her classmates. “She used to live in New York City, and before that she lived in Italy. It’s been really hard for her to get used to being here. It’s been hard for me to understand everything she’s gone through and to see things from her perspective. I’m starting to understand, though, and have enjoyed getting to know her. I learned a lot about my family and their traditions by making my family tree, so that is why I decided to throw our own Feast of San Geranno. In addition to fulfilling the requirements for my assignment, it is also going to be a surprise for my grandmother. That’s why it is going to be at Molly’s house,” she added.
The class whispered excitedly and Mrs. Littlefield nodded approvingly. Linda sat down and grinned at her friends, excited and nervous for the next day.
Disclaimer: this is purely a work of fan fiction, written for my own enjoyment. It is based on characters and events portrayed in Molly’s book series. These were written by Valerie Tripp and are copyrighted property of American Girl.