Getting Ready for the Holidays.. at the Mangini/Perez Household


I am half Puerto Rican and half Italian. My mom is 100% Italian, but because her kids are half Hispanic and our father was never around, she tries to dabble in the Hispanic culture so we grow up knowing about it.

She also makes sure we know about our Italian culture.

I always felt like I wasn’t mixed at all when people see me, they automatically think I’m fully Hispanic. They speak to me in Spanish when I don’t know any Spanish at all and they act surprised when I tell them I’m mixed.

Therefore, the holidays are my favorite time of the year; It’s the only time when I feel like I’m Italian.

I love being mixed, but I never get to really celebrate my Italian culture.

My mom and I prepare the food the night before. It’s a tradition.

My mom makes a variety of different entrees, from stuffed mushrooms to stuffed artichokes, to lasagna and stuffed shells, to meatballs and sausages, eggplant parmesan, eggplant rollatini, and antipasto. There’s a lot more but we’ll get to that later.

There’s nothing better than waking up on Thanksgiving morning and smelling your mother’s cooking.

We eat at 4:00. My mother and I set the table with an antipasto platter, baked Italian bread, lasagna, stuffed shells, eggplant parmesan, eggplant rollatini, and stuffed mushrooms. With a giant bowl of sauce and meatballs and sausage in another giant bowl.

The family then gathers around the table and joins hands, we all say grace. Every single one of us.

Then the best part yet, we dig in.

After eating the first meal, my mother heats the second in the oven. We take about an hour to digest our food then we move on to the next course.

Our next entrees include ham, stuffed artichokes, turkey, because what’s Thanksgiving without a turkey. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, candy yams, and pernil, we’re still half Spanish so one Spanish entree wouldn’t hurt.

Then it’s my favorite part, dessert. The dessert includes zeppelis, cannolis, cheesecake, pudding pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, cluster pie, (there’s a lot of pie,) and cookies, all from our favorite bakery, Artuso.

After that, we reminisce, drink coquito and eat more food. Then we speak about the next holiday we love to celebrate; Christmas.

My mom believes that Thanksgiving is like a pre-Christmas. The Christmas season officially starts the day after Thanksgiving. So after Thanksgiving, we prepare ourselves for the holiday season.

When Christmas Eve finally arrives my mom and I continue the tradition of me helping her prepare dinner. We start off with an Italian-American tradition, the feast of the seven fishes, also known as Festa dei Sette Pesci or La Vigilia.

That entrée for us contains shrimp scampi, clams, crabs, and more. Plus, my favorite salmon. My mom also makes eggplant parmesan and pot roast for the non-fish eaters and the ones who are allergic. We also drink wine and apple cider for the underage kids (me, it’s cool though, I don’t even like wine.)

We feast on all the food and we wait for a very special someone to come visit us.

Our special visitor is Santa Claus!

I’m just kidding, it’s my uncle dressed up as Santa Claus, but the kids don’t know that.

My uncle, I mean, Santa Claus, comes in with his bag of gifts and gives it out to all the good girls and boys, (or should I say girls because that’s all we have in my family?)

Anyway, Mr. Claus comes in, jolly as can be, and gives out gifts to all of my younger cousins and they take a memorable picture with him.

Then he leaves along with my uncle. He leaves to deliver more gifts to my cousins on Long Island.

After that, it’s dessert time! I mean it’s not a party without the desert. The dessert contains honey balls made by the family, cannolis, and a variety of cheesecakes.

Then before my cousins leave back home, they allow the kids to open up at least 2 gifts, yes I’m included in that.

The next morning, after everyone opens up their gifts,  my mother makes more of a feast that includes lasagna, pernil, and ham. Depending on her mood she’ll cook rice and other side dishes.

We meet at the table and say grace. This year I’m thankful for everything that God has given me, even if it was bad.

I’m really excited about the holidays and the new year. This is the first time in a long time that everyone is just as excited as I am for the holidays.

I enjoy telling my holidays stories along with learning about other cultures. I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and more!