If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

27 December 2006


Pensieri is the Italian word for 'little gifts.' Technically translated, it comes from pensare, the verb 'to think' ... so I always think of them as "little thinking of yous".

When I come back from a trip, for example, I bring a pensiero to the woman who feeds Sisi.

This time of the year, pensieri are everywhere. And what's amazing is that even the smallest of businesses have logo-printed pensieri (usually boxed up/gift wrapped) to give out to their customers.

I went around, a few days before Christmas, with plates of homemade chocolate-drizzled shortbread to give to my friends, the folks in my everyday life who make my life easier, who are kind to me. And in exchange, I was laden down with ... pensieri from them:

A thermometer from the gas station
A lottery ticket from the tabaccaio where I buy my phone cards
A keychain from the pizza parlor
A picture frame and calendar from the coffee shop near the office
A combination lighter AND laser pointer from the coffee shop at the piazza, offered with a glass of prosecco on Christmas eve.
A poinsettia from the florist, "so your table is dressed" (!)
A longstemmed red rose from my friend who runs the gift shop
A tub of conditioner from the hairdresser
A bottle of wine from my local restaurant
A hunk of finocchiona salame from the butcher
2 jars of blackberry jam and 2 jars of porcini trifolata from my cleaning woman
A bottle of homemade vin santo from the man who helps with my yard.

It's rather nice, actually. I have to admit that I WAS a little afraid that Christmas this year, far from those I love, would feel empty. And instead I have a whole stack of 'thinking of mes' given to me from my adopted village family.

Sometimes, it really truly is the little things.

It is a much, much simpler life here, to be sure. And harder in many ways, I will not lie to you. The romanticized version of 'under the tuscan sun' is just that - romanticized. But I came here to become a part of something different, to learn what it had to teach. And ... while it doesn't seem like much, that list of pensieri means more in total than its individual pieces: in sum, it is the gift of being accepted as 'one of them' - although I arrived a complete stranger.

Acceptance. Acknowledgement.

THAT, my friends, is worth more than anything I can think of that would have been wrapped under my tree this year.

PS: speaking of pensieri... I offer a quiet and reverent bow of my head to those of you who took the time to visit here over the past week, who left comments or sent emails -- some long-time friends, other whom I have never met. While I love writing If Not Now, When? for the sake of my own diary, part of the gift of this journey is that people have appreciated what I share about it. Thank you, for taking the time to let me know that it means something to you, that it encourages or entertains you, that it gives you a glimpse into a life that you may want someday or an escape from the life that you have. It was a delightful, unexpected gift to hear from all of you.


Blogger tallulah said...

I love that you are sharing your journey with all of us. I also enjoy knowing that through the small circle of life, that I have personal friends Way Down In Mayberry that know you personally.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

....here is a little pensiero coming your way from me, wishing you a serene and tranquil season....and tante buone cose per 2007!!

5:51 PM  
Blogger mistressofchange said...

What a lovely cultural lesson we can learn from your Tuscan neighbors. Appreciation to all the people who make our life easier is all too often absent in American day-to-day life.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Happy New Year, Viaggiatore. Thank you for the pensieri of your site that reminds me of the wonderful things I have that are of my choosing. You've inspired me in a number of ways to find places for myself and my family that, while scary sometimes in terms of responsibility, are wonderful in terms of the reward. Have a happy and a healthy new year!

6:38 PM  

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