Packing one’s bags to fly across the ocean and study in a place filled with countless different cultures, something one must not forget to bring is a part of their own culture.
Being the “American” abroad, it only made sense that I kick-off the holiday season how I know best… by hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. As the day approached, bittersweet feelings arose since I realized it was my first Thanksgiving in my whole life that I was not home to celebrate it with my family. And yet, I have so much to be thankful for here such that I wanted to share my appreciation with those friends that have turned into family. On the menu were the classics like a lemon mustard vinaigrette kale salad, garlic green beans, roasted vegetables with a maple balsamic glaze, homemade stuffing and gravy, my very first whole turkey (which I have to selfishly applause myself because I think it turned out great!) and of course, homemade pumpkin pie (and chocolate chip cookies). I must say that ordering a whole turkey, cooking my own pumpkin, searching for kale, making my own evaporated milk and pie crusts, using foreign ingredients and/or the lackthereof, made the prep work no easy task, but the night all that much more wonderful in the end.
Despite people thinking it’s just a day to eat yourself into a food coma (which it totally is), there is much more to this holiday. For me, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the opportunities, experiences, and blessings God has so abundantly given to me. A time to appreciate the people in my life and all they have done for me. Most importantly, for the grace and love God gives me freely every day though I don’t deserve it and how present His goodness is in my life every single day.
To make things short and sweet, (a few) things I’m thankful for:
- My family
- My friends; both at home and here in Milan
- My education
- A place to call home
- Endless support and love
- The various communities I am a part of
- My health and safety
- The ability to move and breathe
- The opportunities and experiences I have had
- My strengths (and weaknesses)
- Mistakes and learning from them
- My passions
- My time here in Italy
This list barely scratches the surface of all I have to be thankful for, but I wanted to remind myself and others that it’s not what you have in your hand that makes you thankful, but what you have in your heart. To cultivate the habit of being grateful is something not meant just for one day, but for each and every day. So to everyone reading and those not, to those with me in the past, present and future, in Italy or any other country, I am truly thankful for you all.
And now that the turkey’s done and pumpkin pie is finished, it’s officially the holiday season!
“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”- Psalm 9:1