I am grateful for the opportunity to write this year’s Thanksgiving message to Easy Milano readers. As a recent arrival to Milan, this is a wonderful way for me to be able to reach out to new people, particularly around the holidays. We are looking forward to our first Italian Thanksgiving. I know from my years in the Foreign Service that although Thanksgiving is the most quintessential of American holidays one does not need to be in America to celebrate.
This year, I am happy to be spending the Thanksgiving holidays in beautiful Milan. Many Americans have chosen to make Italy home: 35,000 U.S. citizens reside in Northern Italy alone! A fact that, I believe, can be largely attributed to the long friendship between the US and Italy. In Milan’s consular district, more than 60 educational exchange programs exist between American and Italian universities, promoting the flow of students, researchers, and educators from both countries.
Thanksgiving is a time for welcoming new people into our lives. The pilgrims could not have survived their first winter at Plymouth Rock had it not been for the Native Americans who gave them food and shelter and taught them how to work the land. This message of welcome is one that I have been reminded of time and again these past few weeks. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you – thank you for welcoming us and sharing your time and energy and enthusiasm about Italy with me and my husband Don. We look forward to many more wonderful interactions over the next three years.
The first Thanksgiving among the pilgrims and the Wampanoag people was about food, but more than food it was about graciousness and generosity, about one group of people seeing another in need and saying “we have more than enough.” That’s how Thanksgiving started and that’s how we hope it will always continue, with people turning to their neighbor, their partner, their friend and saying “well I guess we could share…” This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive; to be the ones that share.
Something that I’ve learned from my time in the Foreign Service – and many Thanksgivings spent abroad – is that Thanksgiving can happen anywhere. Whether in Kingston, Jamaica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or Casablanca, Morocco, it’s not about the turkey, or the stuffing, or the mashed potatoes, or the pumpkin pie – it’s about coming together.
From everyone at the US Consulate General in Milan – Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may celebrate it.
Elizabeth Lee Martinez
U.S. Consul General in Milan
Consulate General of the United States of America in Milan, Italy