Thanksgiving Day was celebrated yesterday with another 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.
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) I see sadly a Britain divided as I see an America divided by a world changing into beliefs that we thought had long been declared dinosauric, a weary world battered into some sort of quasi-sense by two ghastly eras of mass destruction last century and a Middle Eastern sphere which is throwing the last vestiges of the Geneva convention out of the troposphere of our assaulted planet. Who can possibly stare unmoved at the scene of shattered classrooms and bombed hospitals in countries which formed the cradle of our civilization (if we by the skin of our teeth can so call it) and which border the same sea that gave rise to the great glories of Hellenism?
Yet we, too in Britain 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 and which today is dividing families, friends, acquaintances, associations, even football clubs because of the rant and rave of schicklegrubian-like imitators.
It is all so sad because when the infamous vote result for Brexit took place and the ignorant and the bigoted became faragian triumphalists, the more sensible of those in our area were truly worried about a kind of backlash from the local Italians. None of it. The Italians don’t behave like that. It’s not in their nature. The people we should worry about are those ill-informed brits who voted for the fourth major British political disaster in the last hundred years (the other three were appeasement, intervention in Suez and alliance with the USA in the 2003 Iraq war). Let’s try not to drink or even acknowledge the presence of these unfortunate individuals around us. We realise how this mess (or casino) could finish up as. Emotions could be roused by even a pint of that nice beer they serve down at a well-known local bar. The ignoramuses will leave us in due course and return to their island Kingdom (if it’s still United, that it) if they don’t reach enlightenment on the issue. Karma will do its good turn and we’ll merely ignore them. It’s quite pointless to discuss or argue with those who only believe in lies and have only dinosauric prejudices lurking within the vacuous space of their cranium. Hopefully, they’ll find out the truth soon enough….
Thanksgiving Day is about survival and the hope for a brighter future. Let us believe in it please!
It’s a National Holiday in Canada and the USA on the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving associates a harvest festival together with the commemoration of the Pilgrim Fathers’ survival through their first days when they landed from the good ship Mayflower onto the shores of a ‘new’ continent
The fact that the Pilgrim Fathers survived at all was largely due (somewhat ironically as it later turned out) to the local native Indian population. It was Squanto of the Wampanoag tribe who taught the newcomers from England’s Plymouth where and how to find food. Thanks to him the pilgrims learnt how to catch eels and grow maize. They were also introduced to sources of nourishment such as turkey, pumpkin, cranberries and potatoes, none of which had been known in the country they came from.
Let us believe in Thanksgiving 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 humans with genuine humanity can honestly be, 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….
Let us be true to those values which we inwardly truly nurture, as a mother’s breast nurtures her baby, before we sink into a second barbarian dark age whose door is open and welcoming us in with its lurid promises.
Anyway, let’s get back to food which is love itself, like Dali’s loaf of bread (have you visited his great exhibition at Pisa’s Palazzo Blu?) which is the giver of life Himself.
Here is something of what we ate:
And here are some of a convivial family of guests at our table:
Full and hearty thanks are due to Norma Jean Bishop (far right in photo above), editor of our English-language Lucca magazine, ‘Grapevine’ and great organiser of events designed to further the cause of conviviality, exchange and harmony! We so desperately need more people like her to nurture the good qualities in us, to release our creative faculties and to celebrate our diversity with joy and not our differences with hate, that detestable word so mailed daily to too many people in the UK.
As George Herbert wrote in the seventeenth century:
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.