Growing up in an Italian neighborhood in Union City, Christmas was spent at my grandmother's on 30th Street.

She had 10 kids who all married and had children, so the place was packed. In fact, we used to joke that the table was so long it would go outside the front door and up the block. All the food was homemade and cooked in the basement where the real kitchen was. Not that fake one upstairs with all the new appliances given to her by her children.

When I see the opening of "The Godfather," I'm reminded of those Christmases.  By the time we got home, Santa had come and left all the presents for me and my sister. This was great because we didn't have to wait until Christmas morning.

When we moved to Marlboro - where our house was one of the few that was decorated in the mostly-Jewish neighborhood - we would have all the neighbors come over. Then, we would convert them, if for only one night of peace on earth, good will toward men, and lots of food and presents!

Now that I have my own family, we decorate the house and do it up for the kids.  Sometimes, amid the chaos I sit back in my comfy chair, close my eyes and I can hear the old voices. When I do, I raise my glass in a toast, like I'm doing right now. Salute!

Steve Trevelise is on the air from Monday-Thursday, 7 to 11 p.m. Tweet him @realstevetrev or @nj1015.

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