The Gift Of Gratitude, And The Simplicity Of Our Greatest Pleasures


From the island of Manhattan to the medieval archways on the Roman Coast, Thanksgiving arrived from across the Atlantic once again. Twenty-seven of my closest friends, their children, and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving by bridging the traditions of Sunday “pranzo” (lunch) around the table. We thoroughly enjoyed new world American customs and cuisine. Thanksgiving in Italy only exists in American movies or through photographs sent by family and friends that immigrated. With great fascination, all came hungry and ready to partake in marathon eating but most importantly, to share their gratitude in good company.

During the week of Thanksgiving, I organized myself to make a trip to the American supermarket in Rome in which I transported over 70 pounds worth of products by wheeling a suitcase over the cobblestone streets. After a long train ride during rush hour, I arrived home and eagerly unpacked the key ingredients needed for our feast. Additionally, special produce was ordered at the local market along with two large turkeys at the butcher shop. Two days were spent in the kitchen with ease and happiness. I was truly in my element and delighted to create a special experience for my loved ones as they have been most loving and kind of heart to me.

This all came about from the end of August when some of them asked if we could celebrate Thanksgiving since I was now living here. After a few years of sending them American holiday photographs from NYC, they wanted the “real deal.” I graciously accepted the honor to host it and before I knew it, the end of November arrived.

We devoured over 30 lbs of turkey along with typical side dishes, appetizers, and desserts. This event marked the first time that the majority had ever tried American cuisine. Their fascination was authentic and they were most excited to share the day all together. We also followed some customs as I asked my adopted “Nonna” (grandmother), Lucina, to lead us in a prayer before we ate.

With great emotion, she beautifully recited it. After our first round of turkey, it was time to give thanks; reflecting on what we were appreciative for within our lives.

Small pieces of paper were distributed with the start of a sentence, I am grateful. Anonymously, each person from the age of five to 75 wrote their thoughts. We folded up the slips and placed them in a glass vase. One by one, the responses were read aloud. These were some of the heartfelt sentiments expressed…

  • I am grateful to have a splendid family and so many people in my life that love me.
  • I am grateful to be alive to appreciate every day of my life.
  • I am grateful because I have never known about the Thanksgiving holiday, but it is very beautiful and original in which we are gathered here in friendship.
  • I am grateful to who has taught me how to love.

Simple statements of gratitude regarding family, love, health, friendship, and the joy of living each day were common threads in the most beautiful patchwork we created together. It’s moments like these when one is reminded of the many blessings life has to offer. We have been granted the gift of life—it’s our choice to enjoy it both individually and collectively to its fullest.

image – Leanne Surfleet