It’s a bit of an act of faith as a mother to send your child off into the care of others. I did that last spring when my oldest girl went off to stay with a family in northern Italy. This family took her in and embraced her as one of their own. And recently I had the chance to return the favour when Elena came to spend time with us.
A bunch of families from the girls’ school opened up our homes to a lovely group of Italian kids. We introduced Elena to Canadian Thanksgiving – in a big way. We always spend it up north in a cottage full of people. There are about 20 in all – families that come together once a year for a big food and fun fest. And isn’t that what Thanksgiving’s all about?
This exchange was an amazing experience for my daughter, something I’m sure she’ll never forget. It happened that most of Olivia’s trip took place in Italy in the area where I was born and where all of my relatives currently live. An art teacher and history teacher accompanied the Canadian students, giving them rare insight into the culture and history of the area. It was a glimpse of my heritage I could never have given my daughter otherwise.
For me, it’s about birthright. Despite living here most of my life, I am still deeply connected to and influenced by my Italian roots. It was really meaningful for me to be able to pass some of that on to my daughter. In a country where so many of us are from somewhere else, isn’t that something to think about? Maybe our children have a birthright to understand where their family came from, where their roots are.
Elena’s visit was a great experience for the entire family. My girls now have a friend in another country, and they learned something about how people from another culture can be different. And how in so many ways, we are all the same.
By the way, the picture up top is what Thanksgiving breakfast looks like at my cottage. And that’s not the entire table!