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Buon Ringraziamento

November 24, 2011

Yesterday I arrived at the Albany-Rensselaer train station at 2:15pm. It was heartwarming to see all of the families expectantly looking toward the arriving travelers and how excited they got when they spotted the one they were looking for among the crowd. Such a different vibe from your day-to-day train and subway commuting, when you push through a wall of people to get off the train only to discover that the up escalator at 59th Street is broken. Again.

Today I was lucky enough to have a delicious Thanksgiving meal cooked for me by my family, and to spend the entire day in the company of aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and my grandma! Highlight: my mom teaching my cousin how to carve a turkey.

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I know that Italians don’t technically celebrate Thanksgiving, even though I used to hear it translated (literally) as “Ringraziamento.” But somehow the entire spirit of the holiday makes it, for me, the most Italian of all American holidays, one that brings us the closest to the Italian concept of “giorno di festa.” It’s not a holiday exclusive to one religious group, so it’s safe to say that the whole country kind of shuts down. People stop working and checking e-mail (maybe?) It’s not Italian in that everyone spends hours traveling to reach their families–if this were Italy, we’d all be together already. Its purpose is to gather with family and take the day to eat a multicourse meal, drink a few bottles of wine, talk a lot, eat more, and talk even more. There is no purpose other than relaxation, not at a future time, but here and now, today. Not with the family you wish you had, but with the people that are actually around you. The family, holiday meal (“cenone,”) is my favorite part of my memories of Italy, those endless Sundays after lunch spent playing with kids and just digesting.

Buon ringraziamento a tutti!

And now to bed, because we all know what tomorrow is.

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