Growing up Italian is not just having one side of the family equation being part Italian, it is having both sides such as your mother, father, grandmother, grandfather full blooded Italians with roots that go back to the Old Country.
If you were a woman, you were decidedly the homemaker so it was important to know how to cook, clean and raise children and that part in parcel was part of growing up as an Italian.
As a child you kept your opinions to yourself until you were an adult, and, sometimes that was at thirteen or fourteen years old when marriages were arranged. Some women married and started families as it was tradition.
My family members were old Italian. They were steeped in tradition. However the old ways were steadfastly becoming more modern or Americanized, and food played an important part in that change.
Slowly the old ways began to give to new. My grandmother, the "thoroughly modern Millie" traveled across the United States and to Italy.
Now as second generation American-Italian woman with many more responsibilites than I ever thought I would have, I am torn between the old times of growing up, where all my cares and needs were taken care of by my parents to now being a parent taking care of parents.
I enjoy the fruits of my labor yet I am divided. Do I stick with the old ways of growing up Italian?
Do I let my passion for life and cooking take on the new, or should I take the old and meld it with the new...change is difficult, but as a working mother my focus was not so much change as it was to do what it takes to succeed.
Update - As the elder of the family now I miss the years we had as a family.
My siblings have all gone their way and have family of their own.
We get together on occasion but it is not like it was when we were younger.
Since I married a Military man I am accustomed to moving around even though I was fortunate to remain within the northeast.
Today we are moving around the country to be with our daughter and her family as she also migrated to the Military.
America is the land where you can grow up and be what you want to be without someone telling you what they want you to be.
Growing up Italian in America? Our family loved it otherwise they would have left.
Thank you Grandpa and Grandma, and Ellis Island allowing them entry into this great country!