by Melinda Gallo

Waking up to a new year and a new family

This morning I woke up to Alessandro's mother cooking lunch in the kitchen. His father was already out on a bike ride and Alessandro was at work. I walked into the kitchen and sat down while his mother attended to me by making me a caffè latte even though I said I could do it myself. She wanted me to eat some panettone (sweet bread containing candied fruit and raisins) or open up the pandoro (sweet bread) for breakfast, but my stomach hadn't woken up yet. We talked about what we did after we left their house last night a little after midnight and I suddenly realized that I have a new family.

Alessandro's parents have always been very kind to me since the first time we met. They have welcomed me into their lives and have embraced me as their nuora (daughter-in-law). Everything that they do demonstrates their love for me and I am so grateful.

As I sipped my caffè latte at the kitchen table, I felt as if I was truly a part of a real family. My family. I feel that I am able to be myself and that I can say whatever I believe and feel because I know that I will not be judged.

This evening as I sit in our apartment, I long to be with Alessandro's parents once again. Their acceptance of me is so wonderful and new to me. In my own family, I have often felt unacceptable. I am considered the black sheep in my family because I live a less conventional life that seems to baffle some of my family members.

Over the years, I have learned to accept all parts of myself a bit more and by doing so, I feel accepted more in general and with others now. As I embrace this new year, I also embrace my new family. I know that even though I didn't grow up with Alessandro's family, I truly feel that we were meant to be family.

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