With Christmas right around the corner, I am planning my holiday menu. All of our traditional favorites will be there, along with a few new recipes, just to keep things interesting. We’ll have stuffed shells, salads and sides. There will be cookies and cakes, cocktails and coffees. So many dishes, so little time.

We’ll cook and clean and cook some more. Pretty glasses, plates and cloth napkins will be put into service. And in the midst of it all will be my daughter, the picky eater.

Last month at Thanksgiving, our 11-year-old returned from a bountiful buffet table at her aunt’s house with a slice of turkey (sans gravy), mashed potato and a dinner roll. The meal looked oddly familiar, as it was identical to what I’d have chosen as a child. Truthfully, I’d have added a colorful stick of green celery to my plate, and a little dab of cranberry sauce, just to keep the comments at bay. Not that it ever worked.

So what do you think I did? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I ate my dinner and let her eat hers.

As a child, my plate always led to a chorus of, “You call that dinner?” My father would point out that my mother had cooked all day, “…and that’s the best you can do?”

I’d munch on my celery, then devour the turkey, scarf down the bread, and wait until my mashed potatoes got cold before sliding them, along with the gelatinous cranberry sauce, straight into the garbage.

It isn’t easy being a picky eater, especially at the holidays.

Fussy? Boy, was I fussy. At fast-food restaurants I would pick the sesame seeds off a hamburger bun one by one. I’d skim the parsley off my soup. I spent so much time searching my plate for invading onions that my mother finally started to puree them in the blender, or leave them out of her recipes entirely.

At dinnertime, all seven of us gathered around the table, and my father would pass dishes to me. Instead of helping myself, I simply would pass the food on to the next person. Carrots? No, thanks. Peas? Nope. Hot dogs? Nah. Beans? No way.

I’d fill my glass with milk, take a piece of chicken or a pork chop, and add some bread and butter to my plate. Then it would begin.

"That is not dinner," my parents would announce.

Everyone would look at my plate, and I’d sit in silence.

"I'm not hungry," I'd say. And I really wasn't.

Family photos show I was a skinny kid with bell bottoms, long hair like Cher, and a big grin.

Still, for years, the nightly dinner table discussion eventually turned to what Kris was or was not eating. After asking, cajoling, begging and finally ordering me to try something new, my parents would give up.

"You don't know what you're missing," my father would bark. I'd shrug, nibble my sparse meal and wonder what that meant.

Some nights I was in luck. Grilled steak, hamburgers, baked potatoes, French fries, garden salads, pasta, fish, fruits and other favorites kept the critics at bay. But put a plate of cooked veggies on the table and I would recoil. Even candy corn was off-limits.

Now that I’m a mom, I understand my parents’ concern. They would point out the lack of vegetables in my diet, and warn me of consequences ranging from weak muscle tone and bad teeth to stupidity and sudden death. I stood my ground.

When I went to Paris for three weeks as a college student, I was barraged by new and interesting foods, many of which I couldn’t even try, let alone enjoy. With horse meat, mutton, lamb and snails on most menus, I spent a lot of my vacation seeking out ice cream, fast food and croissants.

Imagine my horror when my hosts proudly set out a mountain of king crabs, cooked especially for their guest from "the States." They urged me to select the first crab and then waited. A table full of French people stared at me in stunned silence when I politely said, “Non, merci beaucoup.” They all ate while I chewed on a crusty piece of bread and drank way too much wine to take the edge off the humiliation of it all.

As a proud Italian, I am a misfit among my people, whose lives revolve around food. "Mangia," was a common command in our house and in the homes of our relatives. The order to "eat" was heard every day. My father even would put the dog's food down and tell Smokey to "mangia." It always made me wonder how even our cockapoo understood Italian.

This obsession with food cannot be overstated.

At breakfast, my family would discuss what was happening for lunch. During lunch, we’d discuss dinner plans.

At school my odd eating habits sometimes led to trouble. I would take a Thermos filled with either chicken noodle soup (parsley-free, of course) or dry Raisin Bran. Then I'd buy a small carton of milk at school, mix my cereal and eat it. Meanwhile, my classmates all had sandwiches in their Scooby Doo lunchboxes or were eating hot lunch from a plastic tray.

Once I reached high school, we were allowed to leave the campus at lunchtime, which was heaven. My friends and I would walk to a downtown grocery store. Every day it was the same: I bought a Diet Coke and an apple, each for a quarter. Once in awhile, I’d opt for my alternative lunch: a grape soda and small bag of M&Ms, also 50 cents total. My mother had completely given up by that point.

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to like lots of foods I wouldn’t have touched in my youth. But many things I still can’t stomach. Lucky for me, I married a man who is not fussy at all. He eats everything I cook, which works out well. He draws the line at seafood, however, refusing to take even a tiny taste of the most delicious dishes.

"You don't know what you're missing," I'll say, sounding like my dear old dad. Our finicky daughter, a fellow fish-lover, will tease him too.

Recently I took our girl to Five Guys Burger & Fries. When we got to the cash register, she ordered her usual: “One Little Cheeseburger, plain, medium well, with two bottoms, please.” That means no top sesame seed bun, in case you’re wondering. The cashier didn’t bat an eye. So I paid the bill and smiled, thinking about how my mother used to say, “I hope your kids are just like you!” when we got on her nerves. Her wish came true. Cosmic payback.

That’s when the guy behind us stepped up and ordered: “One cheeseburger, split in half, in a grilled hot dog bun.” The lady said, “Sir, if you don’t want the sesame seeds, you can just order two bottoms like this girl did…”

“Nope,” the man said. “I like it split in half in the hot dog bun.”

And the beat goes on.