My aunt Randi is celebrating her 50th birthday tonight with the girls and is my inspiration for this post. She is a firey red-head who has an impeccable fashion style. Her outfits often were a one-color theme, whether it was a red on red on red ensemble or a teal blue dress, shoe, pants and bracelets. A counselor by day AND a full-time mom of two rambunctious boys, Randi makes time for her family and friends. She creates fine pearl jewelry, delicious confections and personalized gifts for the ones she loves. She has kind way of talking to you about the most important of things, she is the one who can tell you what’s going on with who and she is the first person to extend a touch and kiss saying hello, good-bye or hello again. As she reaches her 50th year, may she always replicate the love she has been able to share. May she achieve all that she sets out to do. May she continue to listen to the voice within. Happy Birthday Aunt Randi, sending long distance love, hugs and kisses. 

My aunt Wendi is Randi’s sister and from the Magic Mommy line. She is my most level of aunts, which is a great feat, especially when we are all together. Wendi has her hands full of hours and hours at Saltbox, being one of the best moms in the world to my boy cousin Justin and my girl cousin Cassie. She is strong and shows little fear to the outside world. Wendi has conquered the running, gyming and boxing world of the Upper West Side. In fact, I’d say she is looking damn good lately… She is also another of one the “Jewish Mafia,” making amazing foods and holidays. She creates the Magic Mommy way. The way you cook when there is heart and soul in the bowls, dishes and pots. Wendi has a soft voice and a direct message. We are the lucky ones that can hear it on a regular basis.

My aunt Deanna is my “little crazy Italian aunt.” She is married to my most favorite person, my Uncle Koz. They have two kids that are phasing out of direct parenting, being of the late teen and early twenties ages. Deanna creates the magical food and comfort daily. She has channeled her crazy Italian aunts and grandmothers to create homemade pasta, artichokes, stocks, stews, glazes and cuts of meat that melt in your mouth. The richness and sweetness of her dishes bring you to a happy place. Where you sit is rustic and antique all at the same time. Running a private hidden kitchen, creating magical events and feeding the soul is on the top of Dee’s to-do list. She also has a great passion for sharing the ways of the Slow Food movement, the teachings of Vandana Siva and how you can sustain nutrition in your community. There is a lot to learn from the spitfire.

My aunt Pattie is one of the kindest people I have ever met in my entire life. She is another fine example of a working mom in the real estate industry. She is also the ultimate cheerleader for everyone around her, whether it is a sibling, her husband or the people she cares about. Pattie makes sure to look at you when she is talking. She supports her local animal shelter and has dedicated hours and hours to breast cancer awareness and fundraising. She is gearing up for this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as we speak. Coming for an “extended” family tree line, I am blessed to have this “aunt” around for the last 20+ years of my life.

My aunt Ann is my biological father’s sister. The only women in that group of siblings, Ann has always held her own. She has been a strong single mother of my most beautiful and spirited cousin for as long as I can remember. Ann continues to be one of the great links to my Syracuse family. Her home is always open to me, her ear just a call away and her support unconditional. My fondest memories of her are mornings after sleepover at their house. We are around the table planning, skiing, shopping and other “upstate” adventures. I also remember when she lived in “the city” and how much fun it was to visit her apartment and office in the Empire State Building. I am also beyond thankful that she cares for my grandmother and looks in on her. Their relationship is a wonderful example of dedication and love between a mother and daughter. I know Ann will always be a straight shooter and a consistent part of my entire life, regardless of circumstance. 

My aunts Carol, Michelle, Cheryl and Susan are also on that side of the family. They are bright and spirited women who have made me apart of the largest tree limb on my family tree. Marrying into this dynamic and strong family has brought them all together.  Holidays, birthdays and reunions are spent catching up and keeping tabs. Like most women in my life, these aunts are strong and dynamic people who run businesses, homes and children (there are ten between them).

My aunt Judy is my mother’s older sister. She is the one out of all my aunts that has the most childhood memories attached to her. Holidays and birthdays were always a BIG deal. Judy made hand painted faced dolls, dollhouses and vanity sets all throughout my childhood years. Another foodie, Judy creates sweet treats and rich goodness for the people around her. She was proud of me for as long as I can remember. Her large heart is shared with those she councils, her two beautiful girls and her community. She has dedicated time to the Unitarian Church and encourages others to do so as well. I will always remember the possibility of someone new living at Judy’s house. As her couch was open to anyone in need for as long as they needed it.

My aunt Poppy is my mother’s oldest sister. And she is new, having only connected with our family in the last five years. Not knowing Poppy my entire life, she has taken a short few years to enter our hearts. My favorite qualities of hers are those that remind me of my Nana. She passed twelve years ago and I miss her all the time. So when Poppy reaches for a cabinet in the kitchen or makes a certain look of approval, I see my Nana. That is a great gift that she does not even know she is doing. Poppy is the mother of my Maine cousins, who are  frequently brought, shuffled, and traveled for sports and school outings. She is a caretaker and counselor to others, making people’s lives easier to live. She runs with force, skis with spirit and says, “I love you” and means it.

My sister and I have known my aunt Linda as “Titi” for many years. She watched me after school from the time I was five and on and off for years later. She admired my non-picky eating as a child, let me in on secrets of the lettuce was really spinach, taught me to make her butter cookie and pasta fagioli recipes and cared for bumps and bruises. I stayed at her house when my sister was born twenty-one years ago. It was her late husband that picked me up from school on Friday’s because Steven (their son four months my junior) had been well-behaved and was being rewarded with a comic book. As the years passed, Linda became another one of my cheerleaders, keeping interest in my schoolwork, friends and jobs. At the last family gathering Linda said I looked beautiful. It was an important moment, as I knew she meant it.  

“Only an Aunt can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend.” ~ Spanish Proverb