Christmas Eve has been my favorite holiday tradition since I was young. My Nonna (grandmother) used to sleep over the night before so we could start the preparations early for the feast. Because my Nonna loved Christmas Eve, I loved Christmas Eve. After she passed away in 2003, my mom and I have made it a point to carry on our family tradition. My mom, who I affectionately describe as the Italian Martha Stewart, loves decorating the house for Christmas and loves the holidays in general. One of our traditions is making mostaccioli cookies, which we now make with my nephews and hopefully my own children some day.

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While most people know about the tradition of the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, that wasn't the rule in my family, we just couldn't serve meat as the entree. Every year my mom and I carefully curate the menu, always wanting to top ourselves from the year before. We always serve some sort of lobster dish, shrimp cocktail, fried baccala, pasta, plus an assortment of cheeses.

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The holiday season always reminds me that a big part of my identity is my family and heritage. Being first generation American, I want to ensure that my family's history and traditions live on for future generations.