Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Thanksgiving number 1 at the church- Sara serving food to the guests.
IST dinner- our Italian versions of the American classics.
Some of my co-workers and chefs of the night...from the left John, Amanda, Tiffany, and Michael.
Thanksgiving number 3 at Emily, Morgan, and Jessica's. Digging into the delicious and massive amounts of food!
Ahhh the desserts!! Thanks to canned pumpkin brought back on a plane from the states, we were able to enjoy our traditional Thanksgiving sweets from America!

Well, the holiday season has officially started in Trieste! Lights are lining the streets, christmas tree are up in the piazza, and shop windows are set up with "Natale" decorations. Its starting to get me very excited for the holiday season, but also REALLY makes me want to go home!!

This past week we had our own Italian Thanksgiving here in Trieste. Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, the Italians here obviously do not celebrate the beloved traditions. However, I actually got to have a total of 3 Thanksgivings in a matter of 4 days, so I was very thankful :) On Wednesday night, my church here put on a huge Thanksgiving dinner for the congregation and the students of the English language classes the church provides. When Carrie and I offered our help to set up the feast, Sara warned us it was going to be a feat...as 85 people were expected to show up! Haha but little did we know HOW MUCH of a task it was going to be.

Carrie and I showed up at the church Wednesday night ready to lend a hand, and it turns out we needed to prepare and set up almost the entire dinner with just us 3! So after 2 hours of cutting massive amounts of bread, setting up decorations brought from the states, heating mashed potatoes on a tiny stove, making bagged stuffing, and cooking the traditional green bean casserole in a microwave...we were finally ready for the guests! We were actually able to serve all the typical American dishes, because we got food from a local army base here. Otherwise, the green been casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry,  and stuffing would not have been possible! This really gave the night a feeling of home :)

The night turned out to be a lot more sweat work than I expected, but it felt so good to be able to feel a part of the church. I have been attending the services for a while and going to lunches here and there, but that night I felt like a PART of the church. It was so great to be able to serve people, and offer a friendly smile to strangers. Although, my broken Italian descriptions of the foods were rather humorous...all the guests were very grateful and excited to partake in the American holiday!

On Thursday at school, I made certain that my students got a taste of one of my favorite holidays too! We read them a story about the history of Thanksgiving, then they wrote about what it would be like if Italy had a Thanksgiving and what they are thankful for. I brought in homemade apple pie....yes I made it from scratch!...and leftover pumpkin pie from the night before. My students got a taste of a real American holiday; it was so fun to be able to share one of my traditions with them!

That night we had a big IST Thanksgiving, as about 20 of the staff gathered at one of my co-workers homes in Opicina. We all made our way over right after school on Thursday and indulged in yet another night of delicious food, wine, and an attempt to bring a little bit of our American traditions to Italy :) Although, this night we were only limited to Italian ingredients...so we had all the typical American dishes, but with an Italian twist. Everything turned out great though, as there we NO leftovers that night!

Now my attempts at getting home that night were not as successful. I left the feast fairly early, because I wanted to get home quickly to skype with my Mom, sister, and Luke, who were all celebrating Thanksgiving together at my Mom's house. As I left the house, it was pitch black outside, rainy, and chilly...and I only had a 50 minute commute back to my apartment in the city (or so I thought!). Well after a lonley, cold, and wet walk to the bus station I hopped on a bus...starting to feel the sadness that I was not with my family on Thanksgiving. After a 30 minuet bus ride, I arrived in the city only to slip on the wet concrete and completely wipe out onto by butt!! It was one of those moments where I could not help but start crying- alone on Thanksgiving, many of the people I love are celebrating together at that very moment, its raining on me, and I can already feel the bruise on my tailbone :( And just when I thought it couldn't get worse...I attempt to wait for my second bus of the night to get back to my apartment. However, after 25 minuets of waiting in the dark and rain and no bus in sight, I realized I needed to make yet another 20 minute walk home. So all this to say, Thanksgiving away from the States was hard, and involved more tears than I expected...BUT I had some great company and delicious food!

On Saturday, I went to yet another feast for the holiday! A few of the other girl interns put on a fancy and very impressive party for Thanksgiving over the weekend. It was a small group of us from IST, as well as Emily's friends from Ireland and England. The food was phenomenal (the best of all three of my Thanksgivings I must say :)) and we had a great time enjoying our 3 course meal from 4:30-8:00 pm. My favorite part would definitely have to be the wide array of desserts we had to choose from...apple crumble with cream gelato, pumpkin turtle pie with dulce de leche carmel topping, Sacher (a traditional Slovenian chocolate cake), pumpkin cheesecake, and homemade Italian tiramisu!!! I went back for seconds...and then thirds :) By the end of the night and much wine I was ready to hit the sack at 9:30...telling myself I would not be able to eat for 2 days! Haha yet we all know how not true that ever seems to be :)

So overall, my Thanksgiving in Italy and first holiday abroad was more difficult than I expected, as I am starting to miss my family, friends, and Luke terribly during this time. Yet I really cannot complain...3 Thanksgivings, incredibly delicious food, and great people to share in our traditions together in our home away from home?? I am very thankful :)

But VERY VERY ready to go home...2 weekends, 2.5 weeks, and 17 days!! It could not get here any sooner!!!!

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