My Italian Heritage?

It’s time for another edition of bathtub reminiscing.

Woooo! The kids are in their beds and I am taking a much needed hot bath with my spotify playlist playing. After my post the other day A Do Nothing Weekend, I was really thinking about my Italian heritage. It got me thinking a lot about things I remember.

My grandfather, my dad’s dad, was always very prideful in being Italian. From what I remember, he was said to be 100% Italian. Yes he cooked. He cooked everything from scratch. We made raviolis, pastas, and of course, meatballs! He had Italian cookbooks scattered throughout his house. Though, I never did see him use a recipe… Not only did he cook, but it was always amazing. To this day I still remember very specific dishes he made, but can’t for the life of me figure them out to remake them.

With this pride for his heritage came certain obligations. From a very young age, we were part of the local Italian Heritage Society. Every year they would have events like; Christmas with the Befana, Easter egg hunting, and LaFesta Italiana. My grandpa always went to them all. Before my parent’s divorced, we always went too.

For a few years my grandpa insisted that I perform in the festival as a dancer. He would pick me up and take me to dance practice. I actually quite enjoyed it the first couple of years. My mom even made my dress by hand. I don’t have any pictures of me, but the dress was similar to this one.

Every year I would progress into a more mature role. The last year I remember dancing I was probably 9 years old. I remember wearing a one piece swimsuit (it was green and black) and shorts to practice. I was set to be a junior dancer that year. Which meant I had to have a boy partner. Now remember, I was 9 years old. However, that was the exact same time I went through puberty. I was not disgusted in having a partner, I actually developed a little crush on the boy I was partnered with. He had one on me too, which made practicing interesting.

Practice occured weekly in the Summer for maybe 6 weeks. About 3 weeks or so into the month we (the boy and I) became sort of estranged. After that, I dreaded going to practice. So much so that my grandpa would have to force me to go. I remember my mom telling me that I promised to do it and had to see it through. Even though I didn’t want to be around the boy anymore, I went anyway. We did the festival, everyone was happy, and I never danced again (there).

Not only does the talk of the LaFesta bring back my memories of dancing (and the Italian music), but it also brings back memories of FOOD! You cannot go wrong with any of the choices at the festival, in fact, try them all! Fried dough, gelato, sausage and pepper hoagies, mostaccioli with meatballs, calamari, pizza, and fresh salad with home made Italian dressing. Yum!

Flash forward to today. The last time I went to the festival was before becoming a mother (somewhere between 2010 and 2012). The family stopped feeling obligated after my parent’s divorce. Then after both my grandparents had passed away (Grandma in 2005 and Grandpa in 2008), I think it made going there hard for us.

A funny story though (maybe not so much if you are my grandpa though)…

My Aunt (dad’s sister) has done some of the DNA kits to trace her ancestry. We were very shocked to find out that she is not even 25% Italian! That means my grandpa was not 100% Italian. *I think he is rolling about that one.* All that time we had so much pride in being Italian, just to find out we were barely Italian at all. It almost feels like we had been living a lie.

Even with knowing that now, I still am grateful for my grandpa’s pride. It gave me so many memories that I will treasure forever, especially now with them being gone.

I figured I would share some of the songs that I remember from my Italian heritage. I hope you give them a listen. Let me know if you recognize any of them!

P.s. let me know if you have done any DNA kits and if the results were what you expected!

💜Jenn

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