Hard to believe a person whose name is “Kel Kelly” could be half Italian. It’s true. Like most ethnic families, growing up meant lots of family-centric events — think My Big Fat Greek Wedding but Italian style. Everything revolved around my Nana and Papa’s house. My grandparents were straight off the boat from Italy, barely spoke a lick of English, and didn’t have two nickels to rub together, but what they did have was family. And boy did they. They raised ten kids under a single roof of a small house. I loved family get togethers and every Italian stereotype you have ever heard was my world when at Nana’s — plastic covered couch, cheek pinching, meatball pushing, broken English, grapes growing in the backyard and short, round women with aprons hovering over a gas stove.
After my Nana’s death and then my Mom’s, we grew apart from extended family. Life took over and our worlds got busy. People moved. Slowly over time we lost touch with everyone. It was sad. Enter Facebook. Over the last few months, I have started finding relatives and recruiting them to Facebook. I started a Facebook group called “Forced Fuoco Fun” as an online, ongoing family reunion Italian style. Not only have I tracked down relatives from across the country (California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Maine, and more) I have recruited them all to Facebook. This includes my 82-year-old aunt on Cape Cod who thinks you need a passport to go over the Sagamore bridge, so she never does.
The Facebook reunion has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. People are posting photos from 50 years ago, sharing recipes, telling stories, laughing, crying and everything in between. Although Facebook emerged as a social networking tool for college students, it has truly transformed the world well beyond that demographic. It is estimated that 30+% of Facebook’s 60,000,000 members are over the age of thirty. Although I don’t know how many are Italian, I know there are about thirty more now than there were four months ago.
What interesting Facebook connections have you made?