This past Thursday was Thanksgiving in the United States, not in Italy, but that did not stop my apartment! We had planned to participate in Thanksgiving as best as we could because our roomie Alex is from Melbourne, Australia, so she has never been able to have a day dedicated to eating. We planned a few days in advance to make sure everyone had a chance to make something. Victoria made her mom’s macaroni and cheese and banana pudding layered with cookies, Carla made an Ecuadorean version of fried rice, Alex made chocolate and peanut butter semi-freddo and salad, and I made homemade mashed potatoes. We also bought a small rotisserie chicken instead of a turkey. We were missing Kelley, but her family was in town so she hung with them while they were here. We had class that day so it didn’t really feel like Thanksgiving until we got cooking. The desserts were made the day before so they could set and then we all began making food in shifts. Once the food was made, we put it in our small oven to keep it warm and I made the potatoes last. Once we brought out everything and placed in our dining room table, we had quite the feast on our hands. We also watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, I was able to find it on YouTube.
We all dished our plates and Carla had the brilliant idea of saying what we were all thankful for. As we went around, we all had things in common like family, pets, friends, and each other. Thanksgiving has become a holiday based upon food and Black Friday shopping, but in all reality, it doesn’t matter where you are, what you eat or how much, but who you are with. I met these girls in late August and yet I feel so much love for them and from them. Being able to enjoy a make-shift Thanksgiving with them will definitely be one of the most memorable Thanksgivings yet. We drank wine and ate a mixture of the most random yet delicious food and laughed until we cried, mostly laughing at each other. We talked about the different traditional Thanksgivings at home and what we do, comparing each others and helping Alex understand such a strange holiday. Even though I didn’t get my mom’s mashed potatoes, the sparkling apple cider, Polly’s Pies rolls or butter in the shape of a turkey, I wouldn’t have traded that evening for the world.
Later that night, I FaceTimed my family to see what they were doing. I caught them just in time, it was the mad scramble to get food in the oven, mash the potatoes, carve the turkey with the electric knife and get everyone inside for the prayer. They propped the phone up on a picture frame by the dining room table and I was able to join them virtually from over 10.000 km away. It was nice being able to see everyone and catch up for a bit before Christmas. By the time we were done it was about 12:30 here, so I went off to bed. But not before trying to FaceTime Janey and Matt, but her phone was being weird so I texted her Happy Thanksgiving.
Black Friday was not really a thing here in Florence, so we all just stayed bundled in the apartment, trying to stay warm in an old stone house. We also ate leftovers which made it feel a little more like a true American Thanksgiving. Then Saturday rolled around and we all were working on final papers and staying warm. As Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent I wanted to go to church, so I looked at times for Santa Croce and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Duomo. I found that there was a mass in English at 5:00pm every Saturday. So I put on a blue dress, stockings, boots and a scarf, ran a brush through my hair and prepared to go into one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the world AND sit through my first Catholic Mass.
I walked up to one of the side entrances, to one of the guards and said I was going in for Mass and he let me right on in. Normally, if you want to visit the Duomo, you have to pay a fee unless you are going in to pray or to Mass. I walked in and was instantly amazed. This was the place were thousands of people over hundreds of years have worshiped. Two members of the Medici family were assaulted here. Popes have worshiped here. It was so incredible. However, I couldn’t just take photos right before Mass so I quietly took a seat towards the back. I was able to follow most of it because of the similarities between Lutheranism and Catholicism, but I did not say I was a Lutheran. I also did not take Communion because technically I am not allowed to. The Mass was only about an hour long and was interesting, it was a typical Advent Mass complete with a choir. As I left I took a couple photos and walked out into the cold Italian air in the middle of the piazza. The piazza was crowded with people all bundled up walking arm in arm and with dogs. The city has begun to put up Christmas lights and it’s so beautiful. I still cannot believe I went to Catholic Mass at THE Duomo.