Celebrating my Nona on Mother's Day

Celebrating my Nona on Mother's Day | Christies Bakery

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there! From kisses on boo boos to cures for broken hearts, moms always know what to do and say. They have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and that’s in addition to whatever their day job may be. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t take this opportunity to say happy Mothers Day to my own mother: I love you Mom, I hope you have a great day (but all that pressure is on Dad). But I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the matriarch of my family and the mother of the bakery, my Nona.

If you’ve been in the bakery in any of the last 50 years, there’s a high chance that you’ve seen Janet around. Like every member of my family, she’s helped bake, sell, clean and do just about everything needed to run a bakery. Huh, that just sounds like what a mom does, doesn’t it? Besides having to help run a business, she had to raise three children, and later, be a grandmother to four more. Anyone that knows my family knows that my Nona wanted a doctor in the family. My cousin is now a nurse, but before that my dad got his PhD in computer science. I’m not sure if that’s what my Nona meant by doctor because she went back to school and became a nurse herself! She left the bakery for a while and became an addictions counselor at the Calder Centre here in Saskatoon.

Janet Muzzolini - Christies' Nona

That alone should be enough to prove how amazing of a woman my Nona is, but I am not stopping there. My cousin and I have always referred to her as the world’s coolest grandma, and that was besides all of her professional accomplishments. When she was younger, Janet practiced kickboxing. There used to be a punching bag that none of the men in the family would use, only her. When she got older, she switched to sword dancing and more self defense classes. It is comforting to know that any would-be robbers would only be putting themselves in harm’s way if they tried messing with my Nona.

Janet Muzzolini from earlier days at the bakery.

Everyone in my family (other than myself), is a fantastic cook and/or baker. That rule most definitely applies to my Nona. Before COVID shut everything down, I would go to her house and we would cook a meal together, teaching me a new recipe each time. Her bolognese sauce has a secret ingredient my mom has been trying to get for years, and now I have the knowledge of exactly what it is! But not to worry, the secret will stay with me forever, sorry Mom. While it was great to learn new recipes, the best part of those cooking sessions was spending one on one time with my Nona. Not every conversation was deep and meaningful, but being able to have those conversations in the kitchen is something I’ll cherish for a long time.

When I first moved up to Saskatoon, I didn’t have a place of my own for a while. Of course my Nona wasn’t letting me couch surf, and I was able to live with her until I was able to find somewhere to live. I’m sure she wasn’t too pleased with the mess that came with having a twenty-something year old roommate, but being able to be around her was another thing I’ll always remember. I’m sure she’s not forgetting the night I broke in through a window because I lost my keys. Thankfully she was fast asleep and I didn’t have to deal with a sword-wielding grandma! When I had knee surgery and had to be bed ridden for a week, she once again offered to house me. I don’t think I have a more perfect example of her kindness than the fact that she would bring me breakfast, lunch and dinner every day as I laid on the couch in pain. The meals were obviously delicious and comforting, but just her presence and conversations were the most helpful.

Janet (Nona) hiding behind a huge ginger bread house.

So we have a grandmother and mom who ran a bakery and raised three children and looked after four grandchildren. When no one in the family became a doctor, she went and became a nurse herself. She used that to help people get through some of the hardest times of their lives. She’s also a grandma that could beat up more people than me due to being a martial arts practitioner. She’s a fantastic cook and caring human. I could share countless more stories as to why my Nona Janet is one of my heroes, but I’ll save those for our phone call later today.

I’ll end by thanking her, my mom, and all the other moms in the world for everything they’ve done. Being a mother can be an awfully thankless job for the most part, but we can start to make up for that today and every day going forward.

Comments

Janet

I appreciate the wonderful tribute, and am honored to be one of your heroes. You are an amazing grandson!

Tracey

Beautiful Storytelling. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Loved the pictures!

Leslie

Made me smile again. Thanks Gabe for sharing!

Virginia

Another heart-warming column!

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