This post is woefully late… I forgot to put it up, but here it was all written and ready and I felt bad just letting it sit, forgotten, in a word document, so we’re taking a leap back in time today, to Thanksgiving. And my Christmas recap will go up later in the week (not tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to shock my readers with too much, too frequent content!). So off we head, back into fall, for a few minutes we can all be a month younger.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I don’t let the fact that I’m married to an Italian and living in Italy get in the way of celebrating it! Thankfully, I have a few other like-minded expat friends here so we all get together, with a few additions from other Anglo countries, and eat the hell out of a turkey. This year we held it at my house as the place we used to have it was unavailable, and as Murphy would have it, it was the first year that everyone invited showed up. Basically I had sixteen adults and fourteen kids in my house. Surprisingly, I learned quite a bit about myself by hosting this party.
First, and most importantly, I learned, or rather confirmed, that I’m an unbelievable control freak. My wonderful housekeeper, who offered to come in a few extra hours to help, looked on disbelievingly as I meticulously set the table with rigorous geometrical precision. She jokingly offered to get me a ruler to better measure out the place settings, at which I scoffed, I’ve been doing this since I was ten with a mother who could judge a table with barely a glance, I’ve got this down.
I also learned that in the first half an hour of a party I’m the world’s worst hostess. I had asked the guests to bring their food and drink contributions table ready as my kitchen was a war zone and also the place where I was setting up the buffet so having someone come in and do last-minute prep felt, to my stressed out self, something akin to drop kicking a grenade in there and laughing hysterically at me as I simultaneously dived for cover and tried to save the food. Almost everyone complied, even a friend who came in from Milan (a two and a half hour drive) in a snow storm. One friend though brought unwashed salad still in the grocery store bag, a whole tomato, and no dressing and then proceeded to compose her masterpiece on the dining room table, at which point I had steam coming out of my ears and yelled at her. I would’ve liked to be a gracious hostess and just smile seraphically at her, I’m working on that though.
Aesthetics are important to me, which is surprising because I’m not the primping and preening type (much to my Mother’s despair and disapproval), but it would seem that genetics do have an impact and I’m biologically predisposed to needing beautiful, matching wine glasses on the table and appropriately folded napkins and such. I would sooner cut out my own tongue than serve food in the pot it was cooked in.
I love a party. Moreover, I love hosting a party. I love that feeling a couple of hours in, when I’m finally relaxed, everyone has a glass of wine in their hand, chatting, little groups coming together and disbanding, rearranging conversations, laughing and enjoying themselves, and I’m finally, finally, contented in the feeling that all that work was for something important, after all, friends coming together and “making merry”, if you will.
The best part of any Thanksgiving, the going around the table sharing what we’re thankful for this year, was the absolutely most perfect moment of the day, when all the Italian husbands and boyfriends, despite the wine already freely flowing (or because of it) joined in in sharing their thankfulness, and each and every one of them did it in English, certainly an effort for them, but the perfect showing of love and respect for traditions that are slowly becoming their own.
You are a brave woman for hosting Thanksgiving at your house. I suck at being a hostess. I build up events in my head and they never turn out how I imagine.
I always have this image of myself as getting everything done ahead of schedule so I can sit on the sofa and sip wine before the guests arrive…. rather than the insane person stirring a pot with one hand and applying mascara with the other that I actually am.