Last year, when we were searching for a potential new home here in Florence, our realtor Laura and our families became closer. Laura, by the way, always looks fabulous. Her accessories, her flair, and her bubbly personality are real "main character energy" in the best possible way.
During a dinner at her house, she mentioned that despite having traveled and spent so much time in the United States years prior, that no one had ever invited her to a proper Thanksgiving dinner. While our family doesn't typically celebrate it, and often opted to make trips to the Heard Museum and have a nice lunch instead while we were in the US, I paused and thought about it.
My reasons for not celebrating Thanksgiving was simply because so much of US history tended to blot out how Native Americans were treated by displacing them from their own lands and exploiting them, in addition to horrible acts of genocide. The Thanksgiving tale one often hears is often based on myths and whitewashing.
However, I looked at Laura and thought about how she, as a visitor to my own home country, felt left out. As a newcomer to Italy, I definitely knew that feeling. Laura had gone out of her way to make us feel welcome, so I decided to rethink the holiday to make a good friend feel included.
Thanksgiving shouldn't be about pushing a fairytale, but about really considering where we should direct gratitude. Not just in the macro sense, but who we decide to let into our strange little worlds.
So, in November 2022, I created the first Friendsgiving hosted by our family in order to realize Laura's wish for a turkey dinner filled with good friends, family, and overall festive vibes. Being thankful is something universal - something that transcends borders and cultures.
Despite my reservations about the colonialist origins of Thanksgiving, I have come to see the value in celebrating gratitude and friendship with those around us. As we gather around the table this year, I am reminded of how important it is to open our hearts and homes to others, no matter where they may come from.
Instead of being afraid of one another, building walls, or perpetuating harmful stereotypes, we can choose to come together and lengthen the table so that everyone feels loved and cared for.
At this dinner last year, Laura taught me the Florentine word, "Tiratissima," which means dressed up, turnt up, ready to impress, and have a wonderful time. Laura is who I think of when I recall this word, as she embodies all that is festive, fun, and full of life. Her friendship serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, there is always room for gratitude and celebration.