2015 Thanksgiving Reflection

Thanksgiving

This was our 3rd Thanksgiving celebration in Lucca, Italy. When my husband and I moved to Italy, we thought it would be nice to host Thanksgiving. We never really had the opportunity to do so in the States. We thought that there had to be other people living in Lucca, who maybe missed having a real Thanksgiving.

I realize the original Thanksgiving may not be as romantic as the history books make it appear to be, but the holiday has progressed into a time of wining and dining with friends and family, and that alone is something to be thankful for. Preparing a Thanksgiving feast for our new friends in Italy, has been such a great honor, and we have enjoyed it more and more every year.

Who could not love the suspense in going to the butcher to pick up the turkey (il Turkey pickuptacchino)?! Every year, we worry that the turkey won’t arrive on time, or that we had accidentally ordered a cornish hen or something. (We don’t really have a lot of confidence in our Italian communication skills yet.) Additionally, the size of what we get has to be able to fit inside of our miniature Italian oven. However, we never have anything to fear. We love our local butcher so much! He always presents us with such an amazing turkey. It has been an interesting lesson to learn as well, as ordering turkey really is not a normal Italian thing to do, so everyone in our neighborhood knows we are Americans now. However, they were friendly and many people, whom we didn’t know, wished us a “Buona Festa” (Happy Holiday).

Besides our beautiful turkey, that my husband spent all day preparing to perfection, we had all the other traditional foods that are uncommon in Italy. This included: cranberryTurkey sauce (yes – I prefer the canned version), yams, brussels sprouts, green bean casserole (with the French’s onions of course), homemade stuffing (magically prepared by my husband), and many desserts with pumpkin and apple. You need multiple plates just to try a little sliver of everything, and it is wonderful. My husband is an amazing cook, and many of our guests bring wonderful dishes as well. Every year we have more and more people attend our little Thanksgiving and that wonderful company is what I remember the most – even more than the amazing food.

If it turns out that this was in fact our last year hosting Thanksgiving in Lucca, it was fantastic, as every year has been, and we are so blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people.

To all our friends and family in the United States and all over the world, I hope you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving!!!

 

ISTANBUL, TURKEY (August 2014)

Hagia SophiaI got to meet up with family in Istanbul, Turkey. We only had a few days, but it was enough to get a taste of how unique Istanbul is. It is the one place on earth where I have been able to see religion, land, and culture converge and grow.

  1. Religion: Of all the places I have visited, I have never been in a place that values religion as much as Istanbul, where in one block you will find a temple, church and mosque. The first place we visited in Istanbul was the Topkapi Palace. This palace has an extensive history, lush courtyards, elegant rooms and large jewels. What I thought was most interesting was its collection of religious relics, such as Moses’ staff and a piece of the Prophet’s beard. The Blue Mosque, pictured on the right, is still an activeDSC_3606a place of worship. It is such a large space for prayers and reflection. To be honest though, while the ceilings were beautiful, I did not really feel as spiritually moved in the Blue Mosque as I did in Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia, pictured below, is no longer an active place of worship but a museum that represents a dramatic history where it was used as a place of worship for Christians, Catholics, and Muslims. I hope that it remains a museum.DSC_3537
  2. Land: Besides experiencing the convergence of religions and empires in Istanbul, DSC_3604this is also where two continents meet. From the Bosphorus River, that runs through Istanbul, you can see Europe and Asia. Istanbul is split between the two continents. While on an enjoyable cruise on the Bosphorus, I got to see the Asian side of Istanbul but unfortunately never stepped foot on that part of town. I will just have to do that next time. For a little additional taste of history, explore an underground cistern. The one that we got to see, pictured on the left, has been converted into a mini museum.
  3. Food: Food in Istanbul is more than a necessity, it is an experience. On our first night in town, we ordered a meat dish that was prepared in a pot. When the dish was ready, the waiter brought the pot to the table, broke of the top of the pot in a dramatic fashion and then served us our meal. Seafood is plentiful. I saw a filet served that had a layer of salt on it. The waiter set the filet on fire and then chiseled the salt layer off. My favorite part of dishes in Istanbul is the flavor. I am not one for souvenir shopping, but I will purchase Turkish spices. Even if spices and other items are more expensive at the open markets, you should check out the Grand Bazaar anyway. (Just a side note: After ingesting my share of expresso and cappuccini in Italy, I was excited about having some Turkish coffee. However, unlike coffee in Italy, you will want to leave a little of the Turkish coffee in the bottom of the cup. If you don’t, you will be swallowing a lot of bitter tasting grounds. Unfortunately, I was not forewarned about this.)

10641270_10152347574182986_5675532567786028437_n