It's The Little Things They Will Remember
Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Guest Post by Dan Deluca
Award-Winning Filmmaker, Actor, and Screenwriter
Think of the fondest memories from your childhood. Was it that cool new gift you got for Christmas or your birthday? That awesome article of clothing that you convinced your parents to buy? That time you won [insert amazing event/award here]? Probably not.
Although I have memories of all those things, the fondest are the simplest ones. I often think of snapping peas on our terrace with my Nonna, making fresh pasta with my Mom, or brewing the best espresso with my Dad.
It’s those things, those simple things, that I cherish most. And although we grew up in a different time and place than my children, those simple things are the things I know my kids will remember and hold dear.
I would be remiss in not admitting that “heritage” has a bit to do with it. Being Italian leans a lot on these simple traditions that bond families over generations. I can tell you that when I roll out fresh pasta dough with my sons Giuseppe and Massimo, it is often with a rolling pin that belonged to my great, great, grandmother. A wooden dowel that spans centuries of making pasta from scratch. It’s a simple thing that ties my kids to their lineage. And although there is nothing they love more than fresh pasta, it is the process of making it together that they look forward to.
My mother and father were the proud parents of five children. I can’t even imagine that. My wife and I have our hands full with two. But cooking was something that was always a family affair. Each to their own abilities, the youngest snapping peas from our garden, the eldest elbow deep as my mother’s sous chef, and my father working the heavy equipment, like the grill, or de-boning a chicken.
Granted, during the week, we were on abbreviated kitchen duty. But on the weekend, it was all hands on deck. This continued over the years until both my parents’ passing, but every time the family met for the holidays or vacation, it was like getting the band back together. Each of us responsible for the task(s) we had perfected over the years.
One of the last great memories I have with my mother happened just 10 days or so before she passed. My wife, kids, brother, and mother, were all around the kitchen table making fig cookies – another tradition that spans centuries in my family. My brother would roll out the dough, my wife would fill, my mother would crimp, and the boys would add sprinkles to finish them off. And just as my father would do, I worked the heavy equipment, grinding dried figs and chunks of chocolate into wholesome deliciousness. But it’s the memory that I savor even more.
I believe the process of engaging my children in something as labor-intensive as making fresh pasta or as trivial as brewing a cup of espresso, is a lesson in the joy of those simple things. Anyone can make a cup of coffee, but the real pleasure is trying to make it better each and every time. The right grounds, the right temperature, the right pressure all combines into a cup of pure satisfaction.
And, yes, I’ve swilled down numerous cups of horrible espresso that my children have made me. But always with a smile on my face and gratitude for their offering to make it.
Now in their teen years, they’ve both become excellent at making pasta, espresso, and anything else they venture to make. No matter what my children end up doing in their lives, they can always rely on the joy brought to them by those simple things. These days, it’s not uncommon to hear them say something akin to “remember that great steak I made,” or “let’s make that pasta again, it was so good.”
Maybe that’s what a great life is all about: a good cup of coffee, a plate of fresh pasta, and, more importantly, time spent with your family.
Dan DeLuca is best known as Giuseppe and Massimo’s dad and Laura’s husband. When not with his boys, he is a filmmaker, actor, and screenwriter. Most notable for his role as Dr. David Parenti on HBO’s The Wire, Dan also can be seen on Veep, House of Cards, and if you don’t blink, Wonder Woman 84