I woke up a little sad this morning. It’s Thanksgiving Day in the US and I was supposed to be there were it not for that little surgery I had last week.
In my big, extended Italian-American family major holidays are shared around. Way back when, when I was little, Grandpa and Grandma hosted them all. All 18 of us - aunts, uncles and cousins would pile into my grandparents’ 900 square foot house which luckily had 2 kitchens to keep us eating and eating our way through the celebrations of the year. In pictures from those times the only way to tell one holiday from the next or one year from another was to look at the outfits of we girl cousins were showing off and the hairdo my Aunt Nancy was sporting.
I don’t really remember when the first phase of handing down the holidays to the next generation happened. I suspect it coincided with the growth of the bodies (some growing from childhood to adolescence, some from young adult to middle age – either way additional girth was a result) and then the growth of the number as we started adding boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, grandchildren at every holiday. I do know that this handing down happened long enough ago that we are now in the second phase.
My mom and dad got Thanksgiving all those years ago and they haven’t yet passed it on. It’s been years since I’ve made the trip to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and I really wanted to go this year. I wanted to go while it is still at mom and dad’s house, I wanted to go help with the enormous about of work that goes into hosting the Serpe family, and I wanted to go to be with my big, loud, funny, and loving family.
Before my sadness and I were even able to slide down that slippery slope into the self-pity pool, I saw this:
And I got to thinking…this year I’m thankful for my sadness.
I’m sad about missing the sound of my mom getting up at 3.30am (or whatever un-Godly hour) to check on the turkey and to do all that pot clanking she does. I’m sad that I won’t get to try to stay out of my dad’s way as he vacuums the living room for the 100th time to make sure those little V’s in the shag are visible. I’m sad to not be able to call my sister 20 times to see if she and Steve and the kids are on their way yet. I’m sad not to get that squishy, soft hug from my grandma that feels so comfortable like she’s just the right fit for hugging, and to smell the great perfume of my aunties as we kiss happy thanksgiving. I’m doubly sad not to steal rice and artichokes and Uncle Dino’s bread with my cousins before it’s officially time to eat. I’m even sad to miss Uncle Mike’s dirty and quite un-PC jokes. I’m sad to not be able to see how my cousins’ kids have become, well, not kids any more. I’m sad for missing the duker games (aka: the cheat-a-thon).
If none of these things were happening today, I wouldn’t be sad about missing them. But they are happening and I’m thankful for it. As it happens I live in Italy, which has become my home and my amazing, crazy, dreamy and very real life for which I am thankful daily. If I weren’t so blessed as to have a beautiful family in the US and a beautiful life in Italy, I wouldn’t be sad. So this year, as David and I sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner which will begin with our tradition of sharing what we are thankful for, I will say I’m thankful for my sadness.