Italian Thanksgiving

I am plagiarizing my own work and reposting this piece I wrote for an online newspaper here in Italy.  There will be more info about that at the bottom of this post…

But for now, this was Thanksgiving in Italy:

The excitement had been building up for months now as had the pressure.  I have slowly been trying to introduce this side of the world to American traditions and holidays yielding the latest success of carving jack-o-lanterns on Halloween.  The next great feat was to have a big American Thanksgiving.

This was the first Thanksgiving that I would not be with my family, which was strange in two ways: I would not be waking up watching the Macy’s Day Parade with them before heading to Grandma’s and I would have to prepare the feast myself.  I am usually in charge of fruit salad, a task that is really difficult to mess up.  I was stepping into the big leagues but without the big kitchen and the big adults to help.

IMG_2726Luckily, in true Italian style, everyone wanted to assist in some way.  And everyone did.   Suggestions for where to find a turkey, transportation to and from the market, being in charge of wine, beer or deserts, and especially those who came over early to help cook and stayed late to help clean up.  IMG_2754

Because this holiday is an enigma here, the expectations for what is involved are learned from American movies that have been dubbed into Italian.  They’ve never had this holiday and the questions I got were filled with excitement, apprehension and even fear at times: Will there be pasta?  Can I cook something…anything?  You actually eat everything at once?!  What do you mean, bring something to be grateful for?IMG_2735

The final question was the one that everyone was most worried about.  “Bring something to be grateful for”, admittedly is a very vague statement that could range from their new Vespa to their mama’s cooking.  With a little explaining, this concern was quelled and everyone took a few days to prepare what they would say around the table before dinner commenced.

Finally, the evening arrived, and after staying up the night before doing prep work, and having nightmares that there would not be enough food for 17 people, and cooking for seven hours the day of, the moment of truth was at hand.  It could not have gone any better.  It was an absolute treat for me to share this holiday with people who had never had it before.  IMG_2723Being away from home and my family was difficult, but I knew in that moment what I was grateful for and when the time came to go around and share, I expressed my thanks for finding a new family in all of these people.  These people from Italy, England and Denmark who sat around our table and all spoke the same language of thanks.

With plates piled high with stuffing, turkey, potatoes, green beans and gravy, there was a palpable warmth that engulfed the apartment.  Everyone was beaming and talking to old friends or people they had just met that night so enthusiastically, it is a wonder that our walls are not covered in mashed potatoes!  IMG_2750I took a moment to step away and just watch and was overcome with happiness.  This was what Thanksgiving was about after all; sharing with everyone and connecting.  This night was filled with people and memories which I will cherish forever.  And for that, I am thankful.

So I recently started writing for an online newspaper here in Tuscany, a magazine and hopefully a newspaper.  I am having a great time sharing my experiences here with a wider audience!

If you want to follow my column online go to

And then type in Hannah.

And then enjoy.  Openly.