It took all of my will power but I was finally able to give up dieting - just in time for the holidays too.
But hey, I live in Italy now. Who can stick to a diet here in this wonderful food capital of the world?
On top of that, it was Thanksgiving Day in the United States and I missed being at the table with my family and our friends. Before I became a semi-responsible adult, (worst idea I ever had, by the way), I would sit at the kids' table, put my elbows up, stuff mashed potatoes into my mouth while talking, and I never, ever had to pretend to understand politics. My parents were busy with the other grownups so I didn't even worry about getting a corrective smack on the back of the head.
A nostalgic part of me wants to be there again... surrounded by my parents, elderly relatives and dear old friends. Sadly, those loved ones and our close family ties have passed away and as I said, I live in Italy now. My childhood memories have become an abstract historical period, like the Roman Empire. Luckily for me, if I learned anything in my 39 years of life, it's that it's okay to lie about my age.
Strictly speaking, I know that 'Thanksgiving' isn't celebrated in Italy, but I wouldn't want to appear ungrateful to any visiting puritans. After all, Thanksgiving is NOT just another Thursday with better food. Thanksgiving is a cherished American feast; the one day each year when gluttony is a patriotic duty.
Unfortunately, the older I get the harder it is to lose weight. My body and fat have become really good friends and it's difficult to separate them now. While on this topic of good friends and festive meals, let me introduce you to my household in Italy. First in our home and in my heart, is my charming wife, the ever-lovely Ora. We had a fairy tale wedding - minus the lukewarm porridge and angry bears, of course. After many years of wedded bliss, her primary role in our happy Italian home is to name the family pets and do the dishes when I cook.
Our vows included all the customary promises to 'love and cherish' but they never said a single word about Ikea. So, from time to time my wife compels me to visit this labyrinth of design dyslexia. Ikea has been here in Italy far longer than it has been in the US, but for the life of me, I can't understand why. The unpronounceable product names sound even stranger in the mouths of Italians. Everywhere I turn, young Italian couples are earnestly discussing decorative options like 'Floddaflumps', 'Snuddagas', and Gnarpfs'.
In addition to being chief pathfinder through furniture mazes, my charming wife, the ever-lovely Ora has responsibility to remind me to buy great, giant bags of crunchy nugget-like things for the various pets around our house. I refer to these animals as 'the livestock'.
Anyway, next in the descending order of rank around the house is our dog.
Because her reddish-brown spots reminded Ora of a certain ginger-haired American country-western singer, my charming wife named her 'Reba'. I found her last spring, (the dog, not the red-headed singer) while hiking in the woods around my house. She was a tiny, cold, hungry, tick-ridden puppy who had been abandoned. I took her home; fed and bathed her, and removed her bugs. She grew... and grew... and is still growing into a happy, leaping, barking, chewing, climbing critter-beast. Her main ambition in life is to wait not-so-patiently by the kitchen door for my charming wife, the ever-lovely Ora to make an appearance. For Reba, that's equivalent to a transcendental papal audience. Reba loves Ora.
After Reba is our cat 'Loretta', followed by her cat 'Dewey'. Loretta, (who was named by my wife for another American country-western singer) belongs to me. Dewey, (who was named by my wife for the aforementioned singer's husband) clearly belongs to Loretta. Dewey, (the cat, not the husband) does not communicate with me at all. He speaks ONLY through Loretta, advising her when he is hungry, annoyed, hungry, bored, or hungry. I realize that I mentioned 'hungry' multiple times. Dewey is almost always hungry; just ask Loretta.
After my charming wife, the ever-lovely Ora and Reba and Loretta and Dewey comes Domenico.
Domenico doesn't actually live at my house, (you may have noticed that he is not named for an American country-western singer). But he is our good friend, neighbor, advisor, builder, sage, oracle, soothsayer, spiritual consultant and the general activities director of the household. It would be impossible for us to live here without his unending assistance. We are looking into getting his name legally changed to Hank Williams.
There are also too many Giuseppes, Marias, Giovannis, Robertas, Francescos, and Vincenzos to mention. Even though Italians do not recognize Thanksgiving as we know it, we are blessed with their friendship here in Italy. It seems as if we've known them our entire lives. Together with my charming wife, the ever-lovely Ora, a wealth of friends, our dogs, cats, at a big table under a portrait of my parents, I will rest my elbows, talk with a mouth full and make no pretense about understanding politics.
Aaah... it's Thanksgiving in Italy... and we can all be eternally grateful for that.
Frank is an award-winning advertising professional, now retired, from Denver, Colorado who is living the sweet life in southern Italy. In addition to a successful career in advertising, he had stints as the owner of an old west saloon, a film and stage character actor, a certified Santa Claus and a university professor... all of which, he says, are 'remarkably similar'.
He now focuses on traveling, honing his skills as an Italian chef, and writing about Italy as he and his charming wife, the ever lovely Ora, renovate their home in beautiful Basilicata.
Their journey back to Italy started 100 years ago when their ancestors first arrived in the United States. Frank and his wife had dreamed of completing the circle of immigration by returning to their ancestral roots in southern Italy.
Their collective memories of the traditions, values and Italian lifestyle drew Frank and his wife back many, many times until they finally bought their house in Italy and moved there permanently.
In honor of the past, and in anticipation of the future, their lovely home is named, 'La Casa Cent'anni', (The Hundred Years House). 'Cent'anni' is also a celebratory toast of goodwill.
So, "Cent'anni" to you, and to us, and to the next 100 years!