Thanksgiving always gets me a little... verklempt. It's a time many of us set aside to celebrate our family, our health, our successes, maybe even some important failures. Every day I am reminded of how fortunate I am. There are countless things for which I can be thankful and it can be difficult to remain thankful for all that one has in every moment of life. That's why I feel it is important to retain a special time when we can remind ourselves and each other of our good fortunes.
This Thanksgiving I was challenged in a different way. I recently moved from my childhood home in Waconia, Minnesota to the Eastern Seaboard. My fiancè got a job he really wanted at the Space Telescope Science Institute (...talk about good fortune...) in Baltimore, Maryland. Soon after, I joined him here in Charm City, USA. In doing this, I said goodbye to my mother, my father, my two younger sisters, many close friends, and my home of 20 years. People and places with which I had grown so familiar were 1,100 miles away from me in an instant.
I grew up in an Italian-American family. If you're not familiar with the Italian culture, I'll let you in on something; there is only one thing more important than good food and good wine... and that's family. My Grandma Rose treated everyone like they were her family. She hosted meals for everyone in the neighborhood and fostered dozens of children. My Grandpa Frank was the same, climbing up on their roof every December in a big red suit to thrill the neighborhood children at the sight of Santa Claus.
This family-first mindset has reinforced strong and lasting bonds among my family and friends, but has also made moving away from those people that much more difficult. Starting over in a new place can be quite hard and the holidays pose an even greater emotional challenge. This Thanksgiving was my first big holiday away from home and it was strange to be away from familiar faces. Here in Maryland, however, I reconnected with distant relatives and shared in new holiday traditions. In a few weeks, I will be boarding a plane to go back to MN for Christmas. It is a gift to be able to return home, but I can also say that I am thankful for the challenge of being in a new place.
So, this year, I am thankful for the best of both worlds. I am thankful for the challenge; I am thankful for enduring relationships; I am thankful for tradition; I am thankful for technology and the ever-increasing number of ways to stay connected across the miles; I am thankful for my friends; I am thankful for my family; I am thankful for my fiancè and the life we are embarking upon together, and of course, I am thankful for good food and good wine.
Happy Holidays to all.