Le Donne della Famiglia Swingle

The Women of the Swingle Family

My mom has always had a full time job, and when we were young she told me that since she knew she wouldn’t always be around to keep an eye on us,  she wanted to be sure that the people in the neighborhood knew her children and which parents they belonged to. So, whenever a new family moved into the neighborhood, she liked to go by to introduce herself and us … and to bring over a little something to eat. Tradition says that one might bring baked goods in that kind of situation – but my mom was working full time and didn’t have time to bake a pie to bring over. So, she would pop a bag of popcorn and bring that instead.

I love that story. It’s the thought that counts, right? In the middle of moving all my stuff into a new house … I wouldn’t mind a nice warm bag of popcorn.

Out here in Rome, the atmosphere is a little different from what I was used to in DC – even among the Americans. In DC most of my friends were young single people, or newly married people – and almost all of them worked. Only just now are they starting to have kids. Here, there are a lot of married people, and many of the wives don’t work outside the home. So, I feel a little bit like my mother must have felt in 1986.

I have been invited over to a friend’s house for dinner on a weeknight, and when we arrive from work, the table is set, glasses of wine are poured, dinner is warm on the stove, and there is a beautifully arranged caprese salad on the table with fresh basil taken from a plant in the sun room. (Thanks Kate A!) When we invited those same friends over to our house … Ryan and I rushed home after work, he ran to the grocery store while I started chopping vegetables. When our friends showed up, I hurriedly brought out a bunch of bowls with chopped ingredients while Ryan cleared the table of whatever was on it … and it was make-your-own-mexican-taco-night. Just a different feel. Of course, part of the reason we’re friends with these people is because they’re cool enough to appreciate make-your-own-mexican-taco-night.

And, just to show I really am my mother’s daughter – I had to bake a dessert to bring to our bowling league’s (more on that another time) dessert night … so I bought a pack of brownie mix, threw the ingredients together, baked it for 20 minutes, and brought them to bowling in the pan with a spatula to cut them. And I won for best dessert (as part of a 5 way tie – but there were about 20 desserts, so that’s not so bad. :)


Oh, and the title? A reference to something one of my aunts who married into the Swingle family said about the Swingle women – She said she loved how the Swingle women were felt comfortable with ‘good enough’ when it comes to things like this.



Filed under Reflections

2 responses to “Le Donne della Famiglia Swingle

  1. Pat

    Kate, you did great with the brownie mix! I don’t know if Thena told you this before but she has bought the rice krispy treats and took them out of the package, put ’em on a plate, and claimed she made them! Everyone told her they were great:).

    I like Elaine’s popcorn idea. Quick and something everyone likes! And, I agree, just showing up to welcome the new neighbor is the most important thing!

  2. You’re so observant of other people’s lives and quick to learn from their experiences, even when they are in a different life stage or culture from you. Those are fantastic character traits and some of my favorite things about you.

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