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Hello Everyone!

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By: John Mann : December 19, 2012

The Holiday season is fully underway, in both America and Italy. My town, Recco, is in full spirit. There is a giant Christmas tree in the main square, there are also lights and giant decorations hanging above the main streets. The spirit of the season is strong here in Italy, but nothing beats home! I’m looking to forward to coming home for the holidays!
While Christmas is very popular in Italy, The Italians obviously do not celebrate the truly American holiday of Thanksgiving. This year I was determined to share the Thanksgiving experience with some of my close Italian friends. I went all out. I ordered a turkey from our local butcher, cleared out two local markets and began the long and grueling process of preparing a feast. The turkey is the obvious centerpiece of the meal and I was delighted to find out that I had probably never had a fresher one, the butcher had killed it the morning of the dinner. I had stayed up late the night before preparing the dough for the homemade apple pies closely following a recipe from my family. After I picked up the 16 pound turkey, I began preparing all the various elements for the dinner. As it was my first time preparing a meal of this magnitude, I really had no understanding of the task I was preparing to accomplish. Between the stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie, gravy, squash, bacon green beans etc… I had a long day ahead.
In Italy the living spaces are much smaller, so are the ovens. I had to enlist the help of my close friends Nicco and Ilaria to prepare the turkey and pie. With two ovens, the dinner was much easier to prepare. After I cleaned the turkey and seasoned it with a homemade rub, Ilaria put the bird in the oven and together we began creating our pie! The pie was actually very fun to make, we peeled and sliced all the apples and began filling our apple pie and covered it with sugar, cinnamon and crust. All the while, Nicco kept us in good spirits with his humor. Shortly after I returned home, I began preparing all of the rest of the side dishes.
Before I realized it, my guests began to arrive and my apartment began to feel and smell like a home. It was amazing. Ilaria and Nicco brought over the Turkey, and helped set the table and place the dishes out. We all gathered around and I explained the traditions of Thanksgiving, I explained who and what I was thankful for. We all began to fill our plates and enjoy the day’s labor. Honestly, I did a pretty awesome job preparing this meal. I was amazed that it all came together so well and thankfully I even had a few leftovers! Everyone took turns during the meal saying what they were thankful for. It was a wonderful time.
I realized, as I do every year around this time, that I have so much to be thankful for. I am blessed with wonderful family and friends. I am blessed with health and blessed to be able to follow my dreams. I am blessed to be an American, and blessed to be living in a beautiful place like Italy for a short time. This year I want to say that I am especially thankful for my friends Nicco and Ilaria, they are my family away from home. They have shown me so much of the wonderful culture and life here in Italy. They have welcomed me into their lives like family, and I couldn’t be happier that they did. It is difficult to live away from home, no matter how wonderful this place is. Without Nicco and Ilaria my experience wouldn’t nearly be as wonderful as it has been. I am thankful for my Italian Family 

Thanks for reading!

John Mann

USA Water polo Olympian