Chapter 25 – Yummy – December 2026
Tali hung the last of her annual ornaments on the Christmas tree; this year's ornament was one she'd made in her art class in school. One of her seventh grade electives was three dimensional arts and despite some reservations when it had been one of two choices that fit into her schedule, she actually enjoyed the one semester class. The final project before the end of the term had been painting and etching glass ornaments.
"Done," she announced to her siblings who were also hanging their annual ornaments on the tree. She watched her little brother hang his newest ornament, a ceramic chocolate ice cream cone. "LJ, that ornament is so you," she laughed.
"Chocolate ice cream is my favorite food!" the little boy declared to his siblings. "Well, also Abba's root beer floats and Ima's 'loaded' baked potato soup. Especially when she adds the cheddar cheese to the soup."
"Speaking of food, did Ima say how long to dinner?" Anthony chimed in. "I'm starved and since Abba is making spaghetti, I'm so ready to eat. I think that is my favorite food; plus Ima's lasagna."
Tali teased her brother, "You'd eat Ima's lasagna out of the dogs' bowls."
Anthony grinned at his big sister, "I would; so would Abba! What are your favorites?"
She thought a minute before responding, "Definitely Ima's beef stew that everyone seems to love. Let's see, Abba makes some good food… I like his spaghetti… Hmmm… But, definitely his pancakes are my fav. I think in part because of the memories. I remember Abba making pancakes for me when I was little, like about two. He put chocolate chips in them and made a smiley face."
"Time to eat," Ziva interrupted her children's conversation. She nodded her approval of the tree. "Nice work, thanks for getting all the family ornaments on the tree as well."
"Just yours and Abba's left," Riv pointed to the large box containing her parents' ornaments. "We want to see the new one too!"
Ziva smiled, "I have not seen it yet; this year was your father's turn to buy the ornament. All I know is there are two boxes in his office and he is being very mysterious about them."
The family headed to the dining room for dinner. Tony had the pasta in one bowl, the meatballs and some gravy in another bowl, and the extra gravy in a third bowl. Ziva's garlic bread was in two baskets, one on each end of the table. A tossed salad was in individual bowls at each place.
"Pass the sauce please," Beth asked her older brother. Anthony glared at her.
"Elizabeth Shannon DiNozzo, you are part Italian. You KNOW better than to call it sauce! It's GRAVY!" he admonished her. "Nonna DiNozzo would roll over in her grave, or so Abba says."
"And Aunt Isabella, and Senior, and all of the generations back," Tony added.
"Technically, there is no word in Italian for gravy," Ziva added her two cents' worth.
"It is what my family called it and I am sticking to it."
The kids ate their food while listening to the 'debate' over language that they'd heard before. Anthony took second and third helpings.
"Doesn't matter to me; I think Abba's spaghetti is the best food he cooks," the boy chimed in.
Tali smirked at her brother, "Yeah, you even admitted you would eat it from the dogs' bowls! Ima's lasagna as well."
"So what? Those are my favorite foods," he retorted. "Just like you and Abba's pancakes or Ima's beef stew."
Rivka broke in, hoping to keep her siblings from arguing, "My favorites are Abba's grilled cheese sandwiches, and Ima's chicken and rice casserole. How about everyone else?"
Her twin replied quickly, "That's easy. I could eat Ima's olive chicken every day; same for Abba's mac and cheese."
"Abba makes the best root beer floats; and Ima makes the best potato soup ever," LJ grinned as he took his second helping of spaghetti. "But my favorite food is chocolate ice cream."
The family finished dinner and after cleaning up, all seven headed to the family room to finish decorating the Christmas tree. Tony brought the two boxes from his office and set them on the coffee table.
"This one," he pointed to the package wrapped in blue and white snowflake designed paper, "is for the whole family. The other one is for our annual ornament, Ziva." He handed her the box wrapped in shiny red foil paper and grinned. "Open it."
She unwrapped the box and noticed the logo from a local jeweler on the top. As she lifted the lid, she grinned and gasped at the same time. She held up the two-toned gold hearts that were intertwined forming a third larger heart shape.
"Sweet Cheeks… my little hairy butt," she read from the two individual hearts. "One soul, two bodies, 2026" she read from the side where the two joined into one shape. "It is beautiful, Tony. Shall I hang it on the tree or you?"
"Together!" Tali, LJ, and Rivka said at the same time. Their parents grinned and stood up together to hang their new ornament on the tree. Tony gave Ziva a quick kiss as they hung the hearts on an eye-level branch.
"Who's gonna open the other one, Abba?" Beth eyed the box still on the table. "Is it really for ALL of us?"
"Yes it is a family ornament; something special and different for this year," Tony explained. "I think we'll let Tali be the one to open it…" He handed the box to his eldest.
She tore the wrapping paper off and revealed a second box from the same jeweler.
"Hurry up, open it," LJ was impatient; he wanted to see what was in the box.
"I think," she paused, "that Abba should open the box or Anthony?"
Tony pointed at his second-born, "Let Anthony have the honors." Tali handed the unwrapped box to her brother.
Anthony opened the lid and held the open box for all to see. The white gold ornament had seven people shapes, one for each of them, with their names. Underneath on two banners, was engraved: '2026' and 'We are DiNozzos and DiNozzos stick together like Superglue.'
Everyone laughed as Tony explained that since they had come up with a family motto, it was a good year to have a family ornament. Anthony handed the ornament to LJ to hang on the tree.
"Merry Christmas DiNozzos," LJ shouted as he hung the family ornament. "We are DiNozzos…"
"And DiNozzos stick together like Superglue!" the others joined in as the whole family moved into a group hug.