My mother wished for a baby born on Christmas Day. She was so fertile that she could actually plan her conception to the day. The point was to convince my grandparents, who live in Long Island, to come to New Jersey for Christmas. Instead, my grandparents went to visit my uncle in Florida and missed the birth of Rosaria. And Rosaria didn’t want to share Jesus’ birthday, so she arrived 18 minutes after midnight, which meant she was born on Dec. 26 and she screwed up mamma’s plans. Regardless, while Italians celebrate the feast of Saint Stefeno (Steven) on Dec. 26, the Di Meglio’s celebrate Rosaria. Happy birthday little sister! We miss you and we love you!
Christmas Eve is always a crazy day for Italians. Everyone is cooking fish for the evening’s celebrations and relatives are stopping by with gifts and more food. It gets crazier every year. One of the reasons everyone stops by to see us is because of my father’s elaborate nativity scene, which is known as “presepio” in Italian. In fact, this year, the famous presepio even appeared in a newspaper all the way in Ohio. Check out the Ohio newspaper story by clicking here. (See pictures of my family’s Christmas Eve celebration at the “Christmas Eve 2009” photo album.) You can also see the video of my father’s presepio on YouTube —
As most of you know, my husband Antonio arrived in Naples this morning, so that he could spend the holidays with his mother and sisters, and I’m still here in the United States working and spending time with my family. I miss him terribly, but I realize we’re pretty lucky. Military families who have deployed loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan have it much harder than I do. You can check out my About.com blog about the vow renewal ceremony some Army couples took ahead of holiday deployments. Leave your comments because I would love to know if you think these kinds of ceremonies help married folk who have to be separated for long periods of time.
In case you’re wondering, the photo above is from a glorious night Antonio, our friend Ludovica, and I spent breaking bread at the New York City apartment of our friends Alex and Rosario, who are also hosting an Italian native who is studying English, Cinzia. Alex is a fabulous chef and a dear friend, and we’re still talking about the meal she prepared, which featured spaghetti, meatballs, rolled chicken and beef for seconds, mulled apple cider and a pear tart (and that’s not even everything). One of the highlights of the evening — besides Alex and Rosario’s lovable dog Molly — was our visit to their rooftop and the beautiful view of the New York skyline. See more pics below. Grazie ancora to Alex, Rosario, and Cinzia!
My husband Antonio just left to return to Italy, so he can spend the holidays with his mother and sisters. As I sit alone in our bed, I am reflecting on the beautiful moments we shared in the last month. One of the best was our day at the Statue of Liberty (See “Statue of Liberty” photo album). Just seeing her chiseled face has me feeling proud to be an American. My visits to the Statue and nearby Ellis Island always have me in awe of my ancestors, who came to the United States to give me a better life. My paternal grandparents were in their fifties when they brough my father, who was 13 at the time, and some of the others to the United States. Can you imagine uprooting your life and moving to a whole other country at 50? I can’t. I’m forever grateful for the sacrifices they made — and the Statue says it all for me.
My husband Antonio and I have been celebrating our first wedding anniversary for months. On the anniversary of our actual Italian wedding, which took place on Oct. 2, 2008, my husband surprised me with a night in an Italian castle. Then, he came here to the United States and on the anniversary of our vow renewal, which took place on Nov. 29, 2008, we ate the buffet brunch at Villa Amalfi, where we held our American reception and ate the second coming of our vow renewal cake. (See photos of the brunch and cake in the “Vow Renewal Anniversary 2009” photo album.) Finally, just last week, we took a trip to Disney World, my anniversary gift to Antonio and celebrated at many fine Disney restaurants (more scoop on that in upcoming blogs). We don’t even need the holidays to come this year; We’ve done enough celebrating for a lifetime. For tips on how to throw your own vow renewal ceremony, visit About.com’s Newlyweds site.
Last year, when my cousin Fausto visited us from Italy, my Uncle Gino gave him the book Dirty Italian (Ulysses Press, 2006) as a gift. Fausto learned how to say completely vulgar phrases that I would never repeat, at least not in this blog. Uncle Gino found Fausto’s pronounciation and interest in this book downright hilarious — and he started buying copies of the book by the truck load. He now hands them out to all our Italian visitors. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Ludovica and Antonio happily received their copies. Now, they have English translations for telling a woman her breasts look like perfect melons or a man that he should f__ off. I guess I used one of those phrases in this blog — oops! You read it correctly. They even brought their copies of the book to show their teachers and friends at Berlitz, where they’ve been studying English. I’m so proud! Note the sarcasm. Way to go Uncle Gino!
Last week, my husband Antonio and I prepared a Thanksgiving meal for the ages. It was the first time ever that we hosted a holiday — and it was the Super Bowl of American holidays. Still, I think we pulled it off successfully. It helped that two of our guests were Italians, and Thanksgiving isn’t their holiday. If you don’t know what Thanksgiving is supposed to be, you can’t really gripe about it, right?
Seriously, we had a blast, and I wrote all about the prep in the About.com Newlyweds blog. You can also join us at our Thanksgiving table by visiting the “Our First Thanksgiving” photo album. I hope your holiday was as wonderful as ours.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with all things New Jersey. I guess after having spent five months in Italy, I’m longing for a little bit of my home. That’s part of the reason I suggested taking Antonio and his friend Ludovica, who is staying with us while she studies English in New York, down the shore to Point Pleasant Beach on a Saturday afternoon in November. The other reason was that the weather was particularly warm until very recently here on the East Coast. (See the “Down the Shore” photo album for photos from our day.) We looked for sea shells — and found a ton of them, did a little shopping at the Jenkinson’s Aquarium gift shop, and took a stroll in the town of Point Pleasant. All in all, it was the perfect day down the shore.
The song Jersey Girl (which, in true Jersey Girl fashion, I’m listening to Bruce Springsteen sing as I write this) tells the entire story. “Cause down the shore everything’s all right, you and your baby on a Saturday night. You know all my dreams come true when I’m walking down the street with you.” My husband is one lucky man to have found an Italian Jersey girl who brings him down the shore on a Saturday night! A lucky, lucky man!
Whenever Antonio comes to the United States, he loves to feast on lobster. While the delicious shellfish that has meat as hearty as a steak is expensive in the States, it’s out of reach in Ischia. It costs hundreds of dollars to get one small lobster dish in Ischia. There is another shellfish, astice, that is similar to the lobster and more reasonably priced in Ischia. But it too is still pretty expensive. We almost always indulge in lobster at least once when Antonio is home in the States. This time around my cousin Fran cooked us up lobster stuffed with rice and more lobster. It was creamy and delicious. (Although stuffed lobster is a more advanced recipe, you can get tips for learning how to make basic recipes at the About.com Newlyweds site that I run.) There was so much of it that we ate lobster for days. I was afraid that Antonio was going to grow lobster claws.
As many of you know, my husband, Antonio Gerenini, returned to the United States last week — and he brought his friend Ludovica, another native of Ischia, Italy, with him. She’ll be staying with us while the two of them go off to New York to take English classes at Berlitz. Today was their first day of school. I packed them American-style brown-bag lunches that featured a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, a banana, chips, and two little chocolates for dessert. I also made sure they each had an umbrella, notebook, and pen and pencil. They better make As.
So much has happened in the last week. When the two of them arrived last Tuesday, there was a terrible rain storm in Ischia, which caused an awful mudslide in the town of Casamicciola. At least one person was killed and others are injured. Ludovica, whose family is safe, is from Casamicciola and she was pretty emotional at getting word about the damage. In fact, a friend of hers who was also in New York studying English had to return to Ischia on Wednesday. (Our prayers are with the victims at this time, and we wish their families and friends our sympathy.)
Many people think I’m crazy for letting my husband spend his days with a pretty, single woman. But I trust them. And I did turn the debate about my “mental health” into a story for Newlyweds, and you can share your opinion on whether men and women — even married men and women — can be just friends. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say! Now, I’m off to see if hubby and Ludovica have homework yet.