Thanksgiving is Coming Soon

November 18, 2011 at 04:53 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Italy, Political Opinions, Spiritual Walk | Leave a comment
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In only a mere week Thanksgiving will be upon us again. Already preparations are under way – house cleaning is in my forefront of necessary evils! Thanksgiving is of course, an American holiday. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated back in 1621 by the Pilgrims with their new Indian friends who helped them survive the first harsh year in a new land. At least that’s the nice story we were always taught in school. The sad reality is that the story is not quite the accurate – or should I say – the full story! Governor William Bradford documented in his diary (Freedomworks) that the original Plymouth Colony was set up to be worked and shared equally amongst all of the Puritans. However that didn’t go quite as planned. It took about 3 years but by 1623 a simple change enacted by the Governor changed the outcome. A parcel of land was given to each family for them to work and use as they saw fit. What they yielded was their own instead of having to split amongst everyone. As a result folks began to want to produce more and to succeed. As a result 1623 was a year to be grateful for most of the Pilgrims and their friends. In my opinion this is actually a better story than the whitewashed one. Funny how history repeats itself – now if we could just learn those hard lessons?

But I digress – this is about how we see Thanksgiving in our family. It is not an Italian holiday in the sense of the American one but October 4th was the Italian harvest Festival Cerelia named for Ceres. She was the goddess of agriculture, grain, and fertility. La Festa del Ringraziamento (Festival of Thanks) is the reference to many religious days for various patron saints in Italy. These are all usually celebrated with family, friends, food, parades – and originally offerings such as first fruits of a harvest in thanks to the saint. The menu choices might not be quite the same but the joy of family and friends together over a splendid table is the same! For example they might offer ravioli con la zucca (pumpkin ravioli). Our family loves the wonderful roasted or smoked turkey – but our stuffing is made with Italian sausage. One of our favorite side dishes is lasagna! And of course we set out a huge antipasto for everyone to indulge themselves with. This week I will work on starting to make some of the cakes ahead of time – we enjoy several different ones all made with the great shaped pans I brought home from Italy. There are fancy fluted ones, tall layer cake pans in pyramid shapes, and fancy bundt style pans. Each lends itself to a shape that matches well with the type of cake batter and ultimate frosting or decorations used. Some are doused with Italian liquors or others sprinkled with sweet confetti candy. These line up next to the traditional pumpkin or mince pies in addition to an apple and a key lime pie! For myself, I cannot bear Thanksgiving without my mom’s creamed onions – and I am so grateful she is still with us to celebrate and well enough to make another batch of creamed onions!

So as I am cleaning house all week, knowing in no time the muss and fuss of cooking will begin, I find myself complaining that I have so much stuff to clean and so many rooms too! Then I realize how grateful I am that I have a home large enough to accommodate all of us when so many are homeless through no fault of their own. And then I resent that I have to work the night before instead of being home to get enough sleep before I start on the turkey and all the vegetables. And then I realize how blessed I am to have a job when so many do not. I think about how much food I must prepare and for how many people ( usually 26). Then I count again my blessings – I have enough food to feed my family and extended family! I have a beautiful family – and they all want to be together out of love, not obligation. And then I know the reality of my story – Count it ALL joy! I am truly and wondrously blessed!

Blessings of Easter

April 22, 2011 at 02:58 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Italy, Spiritual Walk | Leave a comment
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This picture hangs on the hallway wall of my sister-in-law’s home. It is a depiction of a wonderful wood carved statue that resides in Tarquinia. Each Easter the town’s people and those from surrounding areas crowd into the old streets to herald the procession of this statue being carried up and down and around the steep cobblestone streets in adoration of the Risen Christ.

Town officials, the carabinieri, and townsfolk alike are not ashamed to show their praise for Him, none of the politically correctness scenarios hold them back. Some of the story of the statue is lost to me in translation but the story basically is that the town commissioned this beautiful statue of the Risen and Triumphant Christ. When completed, the statue was so magnificent that no one wanted the artist to ever again create such a masterpiece for anyone else. Here the story of the beauty of Easter is lost to me – the town blinded the artist so he was unable to see to create anything else! No one is sure how much legend and myth is mingled with fact in this story but one fact is for sure. The statue is magnificent and the town is devoted to it.





I don’t mean to sound as if I find this silly or foolish in any way. Rather I find it a testament to the townsfolk that in spite of a less than Christian-like beginning to the acquisition of the statue, they stand proudly and in joy and in sorrow for all that it means to them to celebrate Easter. In the midst of this there is not a carnival or other foolish trappings of a street party going on. The complete festival is a parade to showcase this staute, a reminder to the faithful of the true meaning of Easter. They have not forgotten but instead choose to honor Him openly joyously for al the world to see and partake with them. What inspires me even more is the total joy they worship with – not of fear or habit or sorrow – but complete unabashed joy at the Spirit of the Day – they rejoice in the Risen Christ and all that His Triumph signifies for all men. They have celebrated year after year for a century or more now, in good times and bad, war and peace, economic upturns and depressions, in feast and famine. What has happened to us here in a land that has been so mightily blessed, that we have lost that joy, that zeal? May our hearts return once again to that place of joy in Him as give thanks and praise for His Triumphant Resurrection.



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