The Money Tree:
Joan Dove, my aunt, recalls this tradition from her childhood. Her grandfather, who they referred to as Nonno, (meaning grandfather in Italian) started this tradition with them when they were young kids, around the age of eight. The story that she told me is as follows:
We had just moved into our new house in Daly City, and in the backyard there was a type of eucalyptus tree called a silver dollar tree, with leaves that looked like big silver dollars. When our grandfather Nonno came to see the new house for the first time, Jane, George and I showed him the money tree. He said to us why dont we check to see if it has grown any money? He shook the tree hard, and while doing so would slyly throw a handful of coins up in the air, and a bunch of coins would come falling out. We all ran under the tree and scrambled to pick up the coins.
From this point on, every time Nonno came over, he would take us out to the money tree and say lets see if the tree has grown any more money and would shake the tree causing coins to fall out. Now the neighbors, the Kisler girls who were about three and five years old at the time, saw the money falling out of the tree and told their mom, the Hidzicks have a money tree! Their mom confronted [my Mom] about this supposed money tree, and so [my Mom] went with the kids out to the tree and said look its not real and shook the tree, and a coin that must have been stuck in it for weeks fell out. All the kids were excited and George (the youngest one) said see! It IS real.
From then on the story about money tree became a family favorite, long after the kids had outgrown believing in the money tree. I have heard this story numerous times myself, and it too has become one of my favorite stories. I think that one of the reasons that this story is so well loved by family is that not only does it recall fond childhood memories for my mother, aunt and uncle, but it also captures the essence of who nonno was. While I never had the opportunity to meet him, I have heard that he was quite a character, and there are many stories about all the quirky things that he did. In fact, my mother, aunt and uncle almost thought that he was magical and had special powers because of all the magical things he would do (like the money tree). Nonno was quite a character and extremely well loved by the entire family, so these stories about him help carry on the legacy.
In fact, Nonno has already started to become a legend. From all the stories I have heard about him, my conception of him seems surreal and exaggerated. Despite this, I have all intentions of telling my kids all the stories about nonno, and hopefully he will be remembered by generations to come.