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Vanessa Lachey Is Letting Go of Her Messy Upbringing & Embracing New Traditions With Her Kids

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Vanessa Lachey, 40, didn’t exactly have the picture-perfect family growing up, much less the type of holiday traditions one looks forward to every year. The actress and TV host opened up about difficult childhood experiences in an interview with SheKnows and how they have shaped her and her new memoir-plus-cookbook, Life From Scratch: Family Traditions That Start With You, which is out Nov. 30.

“My mother leaving me was really tough, for obvious reasons. She left when I was around 9. And adolescence was hard. I had a stepmom who didn’t want children. But what I realized when I got older was that it strengthened me, and it made me who I am, in all the best ways,” says the mother of three who is currently filming season two of NCIS Hawai’i. “It’s made me love my kids harder. It’s made me fight for things for. It’s made me not want to give up on them or me, so for sure it’s defined me.”

As busy working parents, Vanessa and husband singer Nick Lachey are creating their own holiday traditions. “No matter where we are in the country or in the world, if we have these moments and memories and traditions, then that’s our foundation. That’s what grounds us. That’s our family tradition — something for the kids to look forward to,” says Vanessa, who is one of the few lead Asian American actresses on TV now and the first female lead of NCIS. And like the rest of us, she also suffers from mom guilt and feeling like you’re winning and failing at parenting at the same time. “I think we are all making it up as we go along the way,” she says of starting new traditions. 

So what can you expect from her first book? Recipes, tips for hosting the holidays, and personal stories from her “perfectly imperfect” family. Life From Scratch is a compilation of tried-and-true dishes including her favorite breakfast casserole for Christmas morning with a few tweaks.

“I think the beauty of the book is that even though my parents weren’t together growing up — my mom left when I was pretty young — I wanted to create traditions and memories and moments for my family. I think that the overall message is that your messy past doesn’t have to define your future or whatever future you want. You can do anything, and it’s never too late,” she says. 

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