I married an Italian. Actually, if we want to get specific and I do - I married a Sicilian. I dropped out of a German/Scottish family tree. Talk about polar opposites!
And adding to the mix, I grew up in the midwest and Petey is from the east coast. Worlds apart.
Our dinner menus were very, very different. His included a fair amount of pasta and mine . . . . corned beef hash with an egg on top.
Christmas was an adjustment for me, too. The Altamore family opened their gifts on Christmas Eve after a traditional fish dinner. What???? We were allowed to open one and waited anxiously for the rest the next morning.
My first introduction to the whole family had me reeling but with glee. It was like a movie. I'll never forget the bridal shower given by Aunt Ann and Uncle Augie (yes, that's who my dog is named after. He was my MIL's brother) on Staten Island. As we got out of the car and began walking around the house to the gathering in the back yard I heard what sounded like the roar you hear in a football stadium as the winning touchdown is made. It was Peter's family . . . chatting.
It was amazing. It was like getting sucked into a raucous event filled with sausage and green peppers.
The old guard is gone now. Aunt Rosie and Uncle John. Aunt Francie and Uncle Henny. My in-laws. Uncle Vincent and Aunt Millie.
I enjoyed every single minute spent with those relatives for many years after that "first introduction."
I remember Uncle Vincent slipping me $$$ and making me promise not to tell Aunt Millie.
I remember sitting with Uncle Henny and having him tap me lightly on the arm every time he made a point in his story. Never bruising me but tap, tap, tapping.
One of the last big celebrations was at Peter's cousin Ralph's house in New Jersey. I think his cousins had a 45 minute conversation about the route they took to get to Ralph's. Which way was the better way. Each had the correct route and, of course, it was shorter than everyone's.
Living on the east coast (eastern PA) was a huge adjustment for me as well. My first job was in a gigantic (to me) retail store. I had to take a bus into the next city (we lived in Bethlehem and the store was in Allentown) and I'd never been on a city bus before. I was terrified that I'd miss my stop. It was a way busier place to live in than I was used to here in Allegan. We have 4 stop lights - they have them every block or so.
I don't miss that part but I miss all those wonderful people that were out there. Memories help but there's still a void.