Saturday, December 3, 2016

Giving Thanks with Italians

It seems like this entire year has been sprinkled with disappointments time and time again. We have had to cancel more commitments, special time with friends, and conferences meant for refreshment and encouragement for our family almost every time this year all due to the Lord choosing to allow physical suffering of health for my husband. At times it has been exhausting, discouraging and extremely frustrating as you can imagine.

BUT GOD...has used this past year especially to draw us deeper into himself and closer in our marriage, to trust in his unfailing love, to persevere through trials, to become more grateful, and to depend fully on him, not boasting in our strength (for we have none) and seeing how he has made us strong through weakness all because of his amazing GRACE. Life and faith lessons we are so grateful for.

For the first time ever we found ourselves completely absent of American colleagues for the week of Thanksgiving. We made a last minute decision to back out of the All Western European conference with our mission due to Jonathan's health situation. Our teammates departed for Greece without us and what could have left me sad and bitter was by God's grace turned into joy and gladness as we saw the great opportunity to celebrate our special holiday with Italians instead.

We extended a dinner invitation to many of our current and ex Bible study students and were happy that our table was filled with 21 of us in total. Everyone was so excited and honored to share in our special holiday tradition. Thanks to Hollywood, Italians are fascinated and very curious about this feast that includes a whole cooked turkey. I pulled out all the stops to make it an authentic American Thanksgiving feast, which meant I was preparing for over a week doing a little bit each day.

Keep in mind there is no canned pumpkin or pre-made pie shells or any other time saving short cuts found in the US. But cooking from scratch is what I know, so in reality those things were not missed. I am so thankful I have an extra refrigerator and a deep freezer or else it would not have been possible for me to work ahead, especially when having to cook two turkeys!

I have to share one funny cultural story...everyone wanted to participate by bringing something to the meal, but I found myself in great difficulty trying to assign dishes as every dish is uniquely American.  In the end, someone brought drinks and whipping cream, another a green salad, another cauliflower, another promised clementines but ended up making them into a crostata instead, and another brought a fennel and orange salad along with cookies, even though I assured them all I had dessert covered. I had originally asked for a side dish of green beans, but everyone refused when I proposed the request because you don't eat green beans now. They are "out of season" they told me. However, you can still buy them fresh in the store from a local farmer, so I was really confused. At first I was thinking, "fine I'll make them myself" because who doesn't eat some form of green beans at Thanksgiving? But then I changed my mind as I wondered if they would even be eaten seeing as I would be violating the Italian rule of eating seasonally. Despite our green bean-less side dish, here is what was served...

  • 2 - 13lbs. Turkeys
  • Stuffing (regular and gluten free versions)
  • Gravy
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Apple Sauce
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pomegranate Gelatin
  • Green Salad
  • Cauliflower
  • Fennel and Orange Salad
  • Yeast Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie (2)
  • Apple Crumble Pie
  • Chocolate Muffins
  • Clementine Crostata
  • Cinnamon Cookies

What a wonderful unexpected opportunity to share of God's goodness and faithfulness with our friends. So thankful Jonathan was feeling well enough to actually enjoy the festivities, share of the historical significance of Thanksgiving prior to the meal and to be able to talk about his faith throughout the night. Truly the evening could not have gone better! And unfortunately, these are the only few pictures I have to share with you from the evening....

The only thing I would change for next time is to serve this meal in the afternoon. Feasting at 8:00 at night is pretty tough on the digestive system. haha! However, I fear that cannot be avoided when entertaining Italians. After our guests departed and clean up was completed at 1:30am I went to bed with a full tummy and full heart!

Thank you God, for your strength, faithful provision for our every need and dear friends.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Late night feasts are typical of Chile, too! This sounds like SO much work but I can imagine the blessing for everyone involved!