Thankful for Thanksgiving
i miei nonni, italian gothic?
As I left the gym today, I tried to count my blessings but then I realized: I have too many to count. I’m not sure if this overwhelming sense of gratitude was spurred by my post-workout endorphin rush, my post-workout espresso (so Italian, I know), or because it’s Thanksgiving. Yes, I realized as I walked home from the gym, staring off at the Tuscan hills in the distance, I can celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe without turkey.
If I had to describe Thanksgiving in two words I would choose “best” and “inescapable.”
I choose “best” for a simple reason: Thanksgiving is the best holiday. (Sidenote: I like to make sweeping statements for the point of arguing and have been known to assert my opinion as fact. Therefore, Thanksgiving is not only my favorite holiday, but it is also the best one.) But the real reason Thanksgiving is the best is because I associate it with gratitude, an emotion which has positive psychological effects on us (See: http://mobile.nytimes.com/article?a=871070&f=25 ). Thanksgiving is also the best because I associate it with family, friends and food, the most important aspects of my life.
I say inescapable because after the Thanksgiving 2010 incident at my house, I swore off this holiday. Let me explain: Last year I did not get to help bake the pies. Tragic, I know. I barely even got to watch any of the Macy’s Parade on TV. Instead, I shut myself away in an upstairs room to finish a final project for school. I attribute what happened next to temporary insanity created by a day of solitary confinement… I stuffed myself at dinner. More than usual. At my house after Thanksgiving dinner, it is pretty standard to find me in a semi-conscious food coma. Last year, however, was a mess. I didn’t even get to experience the almost post-coital bliss that I normally experience after Thanksgiving dinner. I was just in indescribable and embarrassing pain. So, knowing that I would be in Italy the following year, I decided that I had eaten enough for two years of Thanksgiving dinners and it would serve me right to miss my favorite holiday the next year.
But alas, this holiday is inescapable because here I am, on Thanksgiving 2011, feeling more thankful than ever. I am thankful for my family, dogs, and friends who are in the United States and who I will get to see within a month and a half. I am thankful to be living in Florence, my favorite city in the world. And I am especially thankful this year, to have a second family, my Italy family, who have made me feel at home in their home. I am also thankful to be meeting up with a friend in Austria to celebrate how thankful we are!
One final but crucial digression: After reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals this summer, I gave up most meat, turkey included. Foer makes the argument that while Thanksgiving dinner is very symbolic, how much less special would it actually be without the turkey? After all, one is still left with potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, biscuits, pies, etc. I take this one step further: I think that Thanksgiving can retain its significance without any of that food so long as I am celebrating gratitude; although if given the choice, I would still be having potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, biscuits, and pies for dinner tonight.
So perhaps this holiday is inescapable but since it is the best, why would I want to escape from it anyway?