Though I worry that it sometimes veers into corniness, gratitude practice can be a lovely and helpful thing. I know that when my mood has swung very low, no sweet chariots in sight, I start to think about the things for which I am grateful. Though I live in a city that often drives me crazy, I am grateful that it's a beautiful city (and that you can't beat the food and the wine here). I am grateful that it seems that the Italian Parliament has finally voted to kick Berlusconi out. (Long time coming, but still.) I am grateful that my husband loves me despite the aforementioned mood swings, low and high, sweet chariot. And I am extremely grateful for the surprise of a 2013 book of poems that, well, if it doesn't exactly celebrate the mood swings, it certainly talks about 'em: thank you, Passager Books, for the really beautiful objet that you made out of my Hot Flash Sonnets.
I am grateful for the extraordinary friendship that Damiano and I have struck up with the guys of Osteria di Monteverde -- the restaurant that always tops our list of answers to the oft-asked question "where should we go to eat in Rome?" And I am grateful that we got to start our Thanksgiving week by cooking dinner for them. (Scary to cook for such accomplished restaurateurs? Hell Yeah!)
I am so grateful that I found the little plastic hoojie that allows our ancient food processor to work, so that I was able to make the tricolore hummus specialty of the house, I mean, this house. It's plain old, cuminy hummus, cilantro hummus, and chipotle hummus. I am grateful that I have discovered where I can find cilantro and chipotle in this town.
Yes, I'm grateful for our nearby "exotic food store," where I can find cranberry sauce and maple syrup for times such as these. They're there alongside the other exotic things: coconut milk, tahini, ginger pickle, oatmeal. When that cranberry sauce starts to move off the shelves in mid-November, the shopkeepers begin to get a sense that that American holiday is coming up soon. "Ah, si', il vostro giorno del ringraziamento. Auguri!" they say, and I say, "Grazie."
But still, it's a weird feeling to be celebrating this day when no one around you even knows it's a holiday. If you managed to forget something for the evening's meal, well, all the shops are open: that's an advantage. But it feels as if you're walking around in a holiday nostalgia bubble, quite alone, as the normal Thursday people and the loud traffic whirl by, all unawares.
Italians often ask me: But don't you miss your family? Of course I miss them, and on days like today, walking around in my holiday nostalgia bubble, I feel it very keenly. And though I'm grateful for my friends here, I very much miss the folks I left behind (you know who you are).
Finally, I am extremely grateful that tonight I won't be cooking. Instead, we will be joining the ranks of numerous adults and children with various North American ties, all celebrating this day of Thanksgiving, coming together into one big holiday nostalgia bubble in a dining room in the middle of Rome.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and let the wild spatchcocking rumpus start!