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The Ostarello Way of Expressing We Care

Screen shot 2014-01-18 at 10.36.46 AMIn my family, I’ve got an article for you is synonymous with I love you.*

My dad is the most famous for this gesture, but it’s not limited to him. My mom has been known to cut out and save an article until she sees me again. Zio Jim and my father shoot articles back and forth via USPS (my bet is still, despite the advent of the internet). When I was in college, rarely did a birthday of Valentine’s Day go by that my greeting card wasn’t hiding a little slip of newspaper, carefully folded and dated in my father’s precise, linear print. Sometimes a post-it note accompanied the article, other times it was merely given with the expectation of being read.

“Did you read that article I sent you?” is always the start of a topic of conversation at family dinner. In a world where the internet exists and articles fly back and forth with seemingly reckless abandon, there’s a never ending series of questions that follow to try and deduce exactly which article we’re talking about, and if everyone at the table got it, or just one or two.

Sometimes I think my dad was the original content sharer. In another life, he’d have been an amazing content marketer or Social Media Mister.

The penchant for passing along good-reads, must-reads, and seemingly important information continues with me. Over the past three years, I’ve found myself going from trying not to share articles (because I was trying to be my own person and at some point, I figured the only way to define myself was to not be my  parents) to becoming what I can only imagine is the next iteration of my dad because it feels right: I send people articles.

Sometimes I shoot out commentary with the articles, sometimes merely a one line opinion. Sometimes I ask questions about them, and sometimes people chime in with their response. It’s the modern day version of the dinner table, taking place over email during the working hours.

Interestingly, I haven’t gotten much feedback on this habit of mine. One friend, who shared an article with me recently, noted, “Article sharing totally equals signs of love in the Ostarello clan” but he’s known us for the better part of two decades. Other friends have sheepishly admitted to not reading what I’ve sent, and hot diggity, I know that sheepish feeling — it’s mirrored right back at them as soon as they tell me because I do not want to be the friend one has to do homework for.

This article-love even overflows in this here blog (think reblogs, references, or general call-outs to check the Twitter feed, where I attempt to get my sharing ya-ya’s out so as not to clutter inboxes of those I adore most). It happens. And when it happens, it’s love.

How does your family express their love for each other? How do you show your love for those nearest and dearest?

*We also have a special family whistle in case we get lost from one another, or to get each other’s attention. Which is endearing until you realize I can’t whistle. At all.

Major props to Matt, who wrote me an email that said, “I think that would make for a really interesting blog post (so do it!) – all the ways that families create their own kind of culture and ways to express they care,” thus inspiring this post.





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One Response so far.

  1. angie says:

    Some people in my family do this with food. My mom once told me “food is love”, I think in part to explain why many members of my family are very overweight. But it’s kinda true — food is necessary for life. And when you give life, you often also give love.

    When I go to my aunt’s house, she never lets me leave without asking if I want to take some food. Even if I’ve come over to help her with a computer problem, and we haven’t even shared a meal. It’s adorable and sweet, and after I realized that it wasn’t some weird ploy to make me obese, I just started accepting that this is her way of saying she loves me.

    I mean, she says she loves me too. And she usually slips me some “gas money” (even when I’ve borrowed my boyfriend’s car to get there). But she also gives food, carefully packaged in little baggies or tuperwares. She’ll slice up a big block of cheese just for me, since she knows how much I love it. She knows I’m a grown up with a job and the ability to care for myself. But she also knows that this exchange, this small gift, gives me sustenance of food and sustenance of love and support.

    And when I get home and eat the cheese and crackers she gave me, I think of her and remember that I love her too.

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