Oggi è il giorno di ringraziamento negli Stati Uniti…Today is Thanksgiving in the United States.
There is so much to be thankful for. But I feel like it would be a little hypocritical to preach gratitude to you. So, fueled by one (or two) glasses of Prosecco, I have a confession to make.
I try to be grateful every day. I try my best to do the Five Minute Journal, a daily gratitude journal (in Italian)…but lately, I’ve had days where even if I’m 5% focused on gratitude, I’m 95% focused on what I don’t like, or what I don’t have.
My life is far from what I imagined for myself, or what I feel deep down it can be. In order to fulfill my business dreams, I have returned to the nest. What I had intended to be a very temporary living situation, has turned into something more long-term. While deep in my heart I am grateful for this option and know that it is for my benefit, my gratitude is also tinged with shame, guilt, and resentment. I can’t seem to move my life forward as fast as I would like to.
I could cover up those unsavory feelings and pretend like I’m seeping with gratitude, but I’ve always felt that authenticity trumps everything, even positivity. What I can be grateful for the most in this moment is that I am not afraid to admit the truth, my truth, however relative it may be.
Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Italian ancestors, who came to California in 1912. Even generations later, I haven’t been able to shake that Italian-ness. It’s something I feel deep in my bones, engrained in my DNA…whatever being “Italian” means.
What does Italian-ness mean to me? An unshakable connection to family, a place, traditions, a language.
Or more importantly, as this American mother writes about her son’s Italian-ness, a feeling of home:
Still in search of my son’s Italian identity, I recently asked the Italianess question to another friend. His answer charmed me. “Why of course he is Italian,” he said. “I feel at home when I talk to him.”
It is the home to which I was not born, but from which I come.
And while I don’t believe that even Italy has the power to make my life perfect, I can’t deny that Italian-ness, whatever that is, makes me feel at home. It’s more the sense of feeling at home that I seek than a place.
So, on this day of Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks to my Italian great-grandparents for passing on this sense of Italian-ness even though I never had the opportunity to meet them. Even though I feel like I’m in a rough spot (relative to my experiences, hopes & dreams), thinking of their perseverance in following their dreams to move to a foreign land with a foreign language at a time when travel and communication were much more difficult, gives me inspiration and strength.
If I just focus on this perseverance that my Italian great-grandparents had, then I can live out my dreams too. If the stakes of leaving their country and becoming immigrants in the US weren’t so high, then their feat wouldn’t be as inspiring. Challenges make our successes worth achieving.
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Cari fratelli, pensate che la vostra vita sia piena di difficoltà e tentazioni? Allora, siatene felici, perché le difficoltà della vita aumentano la costanza. -Giacomo, 1:2-4
And now, I can be genuinely grateful for everything that gives me perseverance.
I will not only persevere, but THRIVE. That is Italian-ness to me.