Thanksgiving Day was celebrated with a gorgeous lunch at the spectacularly good Cantina di Carignano which I have already described in a previous post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/working-for-ones-lunch/
I was invited by the editor of that quintessentially good magazine for our Lucca area “Grapevine”. I doubt that few other “ex-pat” mags could ever match, let alone surpass, the high quality of this publication. Indeed, all back numbers should be treasured as they form the closest we’re ever likely to get to a compendium or encyclopaedia of life, credences, places, traditions events, trends, indeed of everything useful we’re ever likely to find in our promised land of Lucca province.
I realised that Thanksgiving Day is the one day in the American calendar that unites everyone regardless of creed or country of origin. It is also, thankfully, just one day’s celebration of joy and hope (unlike Christmas, which now apparently starts shortly after August Bank Holiday!). We can’t wish happy Christmas to everyone we meet these days when different belief systems run riot. Birthdays are spectacularly easy to forget. We could transform Easter into a pagan feast of spring’s reawakening as we could with Christmas’s rebirth of the sun but, again, there are still many people about who would object to being called pagans.
Thanksgiving should be an important feast anywhere in the world (and is), at least where English is spoken. OK the UK has imported Halloween and now black Friday makes a mark but it’s Thanksgiving which should really be given importance anywhere where English speakers meet.
True, Churchill once described the English and Americans as two nations divided by the same language (he was half-American himself, however, don’t forget) but I would qualify this oft –quoted statement by adding that the British and the Americans are two nations united by a common crusade for freedom and democracy – two nations which if they had not joined up in two world wars during the last century would have left a very different world today.
I have only been in the States once in my lifetime and that as a near-teenager but have been ever affected by my experience. The magnitude and the frequent majesty of the country, the hospitality I found there, the confidence and the faith in the future: the American dream that I know the world will increasingly espouse, even in the desperation which afflicts so many areas of our planet at this moment.
Here are a few snaps from my one and only visit to the States. I will not give the date away!
America is truly the world and Italy is part of that world, as one of the speakers so eloquently put it. I wish I could have talked to more people from the States on this occasion which was so convivial, so easeful, so moving.
It was lovely to meet so many Americans and so many Americans of Italian descent.
Here are some snippets from our menu:
And here are some snapshots from the great company I was part of:
For the first time in my life I think I have truly understood why Thanksgiving Day – that day which celebrates the Mayflower pilgrims from Plymouth survival through their first harsh winter in a completely unknown land – a planet even – means so much to Americans. It began to mean a lot to me too and I regretted that in the UK we no longer have a day which brings people together in one faith; in one God (whichever name may be given to the Deity).
For we, too have do much to be thankful for – the international touch the Romans gave us during their three hundred year stay here, the great Northumberland monasteries for preserving learning and knowledge while the rest of the world was crumbling into barbarian ignorance, and, dare I mention it, the continuity which our constitutional monarchy has given us and the mother of all parliaments which still manages to protect us from the horrific excesses which so many parts of the world are today subject to.
Thanksgiving Day is about survival and the hope for a brighter future. Let us believe in it for to do otherwise would be to give way to dark forces. At the very least let us honour our harvest festivals.
We must believe and be true to each other as human for, as Mathew Arnold so eloquently and persuasively put it:
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
If we are not true to our own humanity then those ignorant armies will always clash whether they be in the plains of Iraq, the mountains of Syria or even in our own cities….