Growing Up Italian

Growing up in an Italian household was enjoyable yet left me rolling my eyes on other days. I’m not full blooded Italian, more like 25%. If you asked my father however, you would think we arrived on the Santa Maria and have a direct line to the Pope.

When I first saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I laughed until I cried simply because I recognized many of the similarities like the Windex (my father’s Windex was wd-40) and the plastic covered furniture (Aunt Bea’s furniture was ALWAYS covered).

Weekends were spent at the Italian American club. My father was well liked by all and had NO PROBLEM fitting in. Not only did he have black hair, brown eyes and olive skin but also ran a successful Italian restaurant. Me on the other hand, I have always bordered on Albino status, blue eyes and blonde hair.  But nature thought it would be adorable to give me a Roman nose. I’ve hated that nose since day 1. I’m constantly looking at my oldest’s profile to see if there is a bump in his nose too. I guess I really can’t complain considering my sister should really have the last name of O’Reilly or something. She was born with an adorable, perfect nose, red hair and freckles. You would fall off your chair in laughter if you saw her and I told you she is Italian.

Dating was a joke. Meeting my father also meant simultaneously meeting my Godfather as well as my sister’s Godfather. My middle sister’s Godfathers were never invited into these meetings as her first Godfather was a clown (no joke). After he was fired from the gig for lack of enthusiasm on being a Godfather, our cousin assumed the roll.  Being that he was a gentle, unintimidating, non-Italian, he wasn’t invited either as he didn’t quite give off the vibe my father was looking for.

Every year we looked forward to the Italian festival. For some bizarre reason, our chapter of the Italian-American club was responsible for not only making Italian period costumes ranging from the Roman era to the 18th century, but we would model these costumes at our local Italian festival AND at several festivals that were within driving distance. At the time, my sisters and I LOVED doing this. We would call ourselves models.

“Oh sorry, I can’t go to your Chuckie Cheese party. I have a modeling gig this weekend.”

I look back on it and think, this was really odd. This was like a traveling renaissance festival which made it extra odd.

Additional truths growing up Italian:

  • You will be Catholic.
  • You will love pizzelle cookies….even if you don’t love pizzelle cookies. Never had a pizzelle? Imagine a fortune cookie, only blander in taste, shaped like a doily.
  • It’s o.k. that you drink alcohol before you become a teenager, contingent upon it being red wine and being the “Jr. Miss” glass.
  • Someone in your family is not your family. For me, I had Jesse, Uncle Ray, Aunt Mary and Uncle Fish (don’t ask).
  • Someone in your family is named Tony and/or Gina.
  • There is no such thing as maximum occupation with regards to weddings, Holidays or events.
  • Expect the elders to ask* you every time you see them:
    • how much you make
    • how much your car cost
    • who you are dating and for how long
    • the cost of anything significant

*all of these are perfectly acceptable questions and you are disrespectful if you do not answer

So how about you? What is indicative of your heritage? I’d love to learn something new tonight!

8 thoughts on “Growing Up Italian

  1. I am 50% Italian – my dad moved to the US from Italy in the 50s, he is 100% Italian (obviously). Mom is 100% Ukranian.

    But… very few of the above Italian-isms apply. Which is a bit surprising.

    We occasionally went to church when I was little, but by the time I was about 10, we never went. Non-practicing Catholic, Dad used to say. I was never confirmed. And I don’t identify with any religion now… my kids are not baptized.

    I do like pizzelles but not as much as my Scottish/English/Canadian/German husband does! Mom makes them and they are not bland at all… they are yummy. Maybe she uses extra vanilla… but they are delicious.

    Names… does Gianna count?

    I had a very small wedding… less than 50 people total.

    I don’t remember anyone asking about my financial situation or anything. Maybe about the dating thing.

    Interesting how some incorporate so many heritage-related traditions and some, very few!

    Dad did speak Italian… and I regret never learning so I could talk to him… without anyone else in the house understanding. 🙂 hahhaa

    Liked by 1 person

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