Home is where the heart is

Heart-shaped patriotic cheesecake with raspberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows

Heart-shaped patriotic cheesecake with raspberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows

Today’s post is not about food or recipes. It is not about one of my silly stories either. Today’s post is about something important that recently happened to me.

You see that little blue book with the golden eagle on the cover? Yup, it is mine and the big news is… I’m proud to say that I’ve recently become an American citizen!

We have called the East Coast of the United States home for many years now and it has been a wonderful, caring and nurturing home to all of us. I’m very excited that I can now fully take part in the country’s political life by exercising my right to vote and give my contribution, no matter how small.

My family and most of my friends are very excited for me. A handful of friends who have never lived here asked me what all the fuss is about since there are so many other beautiful countries (including my native one) where one can live in.

Oh well, let me tell you in a few words what all the fuss is about.

I think that every country is beautiful in its own, unique way.  Every country has wonderful things to offer and each one has its own, peculiar problems and issues that need to be fixed. Italy is not an exception and neither is the US.

Patriotic cheesecake with raspberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows

Patriotic cheesecake with raspberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows

However, speaking of the US, the following are two of the most important reasons that, in my view, make this such a great country.

Firstly, this is a country where you feel and are truly free to be whoever and whatever you want to be without being judged or categorized. This is a country where freedom in terms of religious beliefs, sexual orientations and race are not just beautiful words on an historical piece of paper preserved behind a sheet of glass! Of course, this is a generalization because for starters the US is a huge country and your mileage may vary depending on where in the US you live. Also, there is no country on earth that is immune to intolerance and ignorance. Those are vicious diseases that afflict the entire humanity and it is up to any decent human being to give their contribution to contain them as much as possible. Let’s just say that, since we moved to the Eastern Coast of the US, we have been lucky enough to live in places and communities where human beings peacefully coexist and respect one another no matter where they come from, what they do for a living, what their religion or shade of skin is and regardless of whether they are straight or gay and – this – my friends, is a true blessing.

Secondly, the US is known as a land of opportunity. This is not just a promotional catchphrase. It is the sacrosanct truth. This is a country that values and fosters talent and skills above all and whose educational system and work environment are based on meritocracy and reward intelligent, honest and hard working individuals. If you are smart and willing to work hard and with integrity, the Star-Spangled Banner’s land will give you an opportunity and then it is up to you to seize it and make the best of it. Of course, this is once again a generalization, but I can talk only from experience and so far ours hasn’t proved me wrong.

Patriotic cheesecake with raspberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows

Patriotic cheesecake with raspberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows

Now, bear with me a little longer, if you will, and let me give you a brief account of the oath ceremony, which is the last step in the process to become a United States citizen at the end of which a judge of the competent local court hands you your certificate of naturalization. It is a very beautiful and touching ceremony.

That morning Stefano, Her Majesty and I along with 55 other people and their respective families showed up in court in a state of excitement mixed with mild apprehension since we didn’t know exactly what to expect.

The court staff was professional and courteous and the “check-in” formalities were carried out in an organized way. Once we were all accounted for, the judge showed up and gave us a beautiful speech about this country which made me feel proud to be about to become one of its citizens. After reciting the pledge of allegiance and being sworn in, each of us was called and delivered their certificate of naturalization. The judge was cheerful and patient and at the end of the ceremony he took the time to pose with each family for multiple photographs.

During the ceremony, I kept looking around me and I saw people of I don’t even know how many nationalities. At the beginning, I thought I had absolutely nothing in common with most of them. However, by the end of the ceremony, I realized I was wrong. All the people in that court room had something in common with one another. Not just something, but a dream that was about to come true for all of us and our families at the very same time.

Later that morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee with a friend. She is relatively new to my life (even though letting new people into my world is not exactly my forte) and she had been supportive all the way – she is the one who gave me the beautiful white, red and blue flower bouquet to celebrate the outcome of my English/History interview that I previously published photographs of.

That morning she surprised me with the work of art that you see in the last photograph of this post. It’s a heart-shaped map representing the three places on earth that I love the most: Rome, my hometown, New York, where it all began, and Fairfield, the place I now call home. It was so unexpected. And so thoughtful that it left me speechless and, believe me, it doesn’t happen often. I love this present more than I can say and I will always treasure it – along with the heartwarming thought of the friend who gave it to me.

I wish you and your families a wonderful and happy holiday season.

Francesca Xx

Home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is

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32 thoughts on “Home is where the heart is

  1. Fae's Twist & Tango

    – Congratulations, Francesca, Stefano and Her Majesty! Thirty-four years ago, I went through the same naturalization of citizenship. I was so happy that I went to apply for my passport that same day. Your beautifully written post comes very close to my heart. You are fortunate to have the freedom to be able to call both Italy and USA home. Speaking of ‘freedom’, although I grew up in Japan, I was a national of Iran. I was lucky to be in the USA during the Iranian revolution, because being a member of a minority religion, a Baha’i, I would face prosecution if I ever return to Iran. So, yearning for Iran with religious freedom, for now, my only home is the USA, and Japan as my second home, which I visit as a tourist.
    – Absolutely beautiful cake, perfect for the occasion. Good to have a new sensible voter! 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Dear Fae, thank you so much for your beautiful and heartfelt comment. I cannot even imagine not to be able to go back to the country where you were born in. I have other friends who moved to the US to escape religious prosecution and every time I listen to their stories, my blood freezes …
      But that’s exactly my point: this country has opened its arms and has offered a home to so many people in need. This is part of its greatness!

  2. Karen

    My heartfelt congratulations, Francesca. I feel fortunate that I was born American and also to have a virtual friend like yourself that worked hard to become an American citizen by choice. What a lovely gesture from your friend.

  3. Antonia

    Congratulations Francesca! I remember when my mom became a citizen…she was so proud. This is a beautiful post you wrote and so heart warming. What a wonderful friend you have, to give you such a thoughtful gift. Happy holidays and congratulations again 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you very much, Antonia! I was very happy that Her Majesty was there to share that beautiful moment with me. She’ll remember it the same way you remember your mother’s happiness. Building and sharing memories … that’s what families are about!

  4. ChgoJohn

    Welcome home, Francesca! What a wonderful post to celebrate your naturalization. We who were born here often take so much for granted that it is good to see our country through the eyes of its newest citizens. Congratulations!

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you so much, John! You are right! It happens to me every time my foreign friends talk about Italy. Also in light of some recent events, I think it is very important to be reminded how lucky we are to be born and live in such wonderful countries.

  5. Heather @ Sweet Precision

    Oh Francesca, I am incredibly happy for you! I love your description of the ceremony, it sounds truly special. At a time when I find myself frustrated with many of the current events in the US, your post reminded me that it truly is a privilege to live in such a country. Thank you for the reminder and congratulations!!

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you so much, Heather! I know exactly what you are talking about and I share your feeling of frustration although, as a mother, frustration easily turns into fear about how those event can affect Her Majesty’s life. However, as you said, this negative feelings shouldn’t prevent us from appreciating the great things this country is able to offer us every day. Have a lovely day, my dear! xo

  6. talkavino

    Congratulations, Francesca! And I love your spot – well, there is nothing new with that. Now, we have one more good reason to have a drink together so we can celebrate!

  7. apuginthekitchen

    Francesca congratulations to all of you. Your words are beautiful and heartfelt and are exactly the reason this country is so great. I am an American citizen born to a Father conceived in Italy but born in the USA. We grew up in upstate NY and my Italian Grandfather who spoke in very broken English was fiercly patriotic. Your account of the ceremony is touching and sweet and makes me swell with pride to be an American. You have the best of both worlds, Italian and American citizenship. Congratulations again, and I love that gift, the map is incredible.

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you so much, Suzanne! I can feel the warmth and the kindness of your words. You have a great gift: to be genuinely happy for other people and let them feel it. Only people with a special heart are able to do that.