My grandmother's home smelled like fresh garlic roasting in olive oil. And she always had a pot of water bubbling on the stove ready to cook her homemade macaroni when we arrived for a feast. Never had I been so excited for one of her meals than in the spring of 2001. My son Cade was a toddler and he was just beginning to eat all kinds of new foods. In my family, Grandma's Italian cooking was a rite of passage, a kind of baptism by ground beef. Her homemade meatballs, the stuff of culinary legend, were on the menu that Easter Sunday. When I close my eyes, I can still see the vast spread of food on the table. There were two big bowls, each filled with homemade pasta and meat sauce. At one end of the table was a platter of eggplant Parmesan. At the other was a platter of braised lamb in a rich gravy. We whipped through grace and dug in with glee. Forks screeched against spoons as we wound big wads of spaghetti laden with sauce. So engrossed were we in our pasta paradise that no one was watching Cade - until he gurgled up a big, satisfied burp. We all turned towards the old wooden highchair in unison. There he sat with red sauce smeared across his face. Both of his hands were full of mashed meatball. He was rocking back and forth in excitement, eyes wide, stuffing his mouth as fast as he could with meatball. We all roared with laughter.
Then, in the blink of an eye, that moment was gone. Cade is 15 now. Grandma has been gone for years. We miss her a lot. Her meatballs are still legendary. How quickly moments turn to memories. When my grandparents were first married, they counted their pennies carefully like most immigrants. Buying a big mahogany dining room set might have felt like irresponsible spending to a young couple. But four generations of family celebrated every holiday at that table. I'd argue that it was the best investment they ever made. Easter is April 5th, just two weeks away. Passover begins on Friday, April 3. So buy that big dining room set and make some family memories. You'll never regret it.