During my years in Rome, especially before greater connectivity, there were times when I completely forgot the existence of Thanksgiving. It would come upon me like an epiphany and I would often feel great isolation. I was not part of the American ghetto in Rome, after all.
The growth of bandwidth changed many things, especially my sense of being separated at times of national celebration. I was, for example, able to stream radio from the USA and later even stream my own satellite box. Chats were more than IRC and e-mail. I could have my US phone number ring directly in my Roman abode and pick up a dedicated handset and call the US for free.
But the greater connectivity diminished in some ways the intensity of my all experience, not just that of loneliness or of removal from my roots.
Once, in that eon before bandwidth, my mother came to visit. I had a big apartment with lots of room close the to the Vatican.
Coming home one evening at suppertime, ready to dig into the kitchen and make something to eat for us, I arrived at the door and was greeted with wondrous fragrances.
The table was set and there was great golden brown bird and dishes with delights.
That it was Thanksgiving struck me like thunder.
The woman had, without any knowledge of Italian, gone to the neighborhood stores and the open market. She had collected everything useful she could find for the day. She managed to decipher the Italian oven, which doesn’t have degree settings even in centigrade. She made a Thanksgiving feast.
Later I heard the tales from the highly amused and completely charmed shopkeepers. This American woman, whom they knew was my mother, had charged in here and there and with lots of smiles and pantomime. I think most of them would have paid money to have had her repeat her charades to communicate “turkey”. She could pick and choose vegetables, of course, and other packaged goods weren’t so tough, but how gestured “baking soda”, I’ll never know. As it turns out, she settled for a big chicken, and the cookies she made with the baking soda were every bit as good as any she ever made back in the States.
An intense Thanksgiving experience.