Sunday, September 21, 2008

Social gatherings

On Friday I attended the 12th dinner of NAAC (National Albanian American Council) that takes place annually in New York City and honors personalities who support the Albanian cause in Washington, DC.

This year honorees were Congressman E. Engel, Ranking Member on the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Ambassador F. Wisner, a career diplomat that has served the U.S. Government in a number of positions around the world. The former has represented in Washington, for years, the large Albanian community of the Bronx area of N.Y., while the latter was instrumental in bringing about, to a successful conclusion, the negotiations that lead to this year's declared independence by Kosova. The theme of this year's dinner was two fold: to extend best wishes to the people of Kosova for achieving independence, and to congratulate the people of Albania for receiving and accepting the official invitation to become part of NATO.

Special guest again, like last year, was Albania's Minister of Foreign Affairs, L. Basha, in town to attend the opening of the 63rd General Assembly at the United Nations.

Another, less official and more private, social gathering was happening in Italy today, but, regretfully, I could not attend it. It's also an annual affair, but organized by people in the same village that are born within the same year, who, regardless of background, education, or position, get together for a big dinner and festivities that last all day, just to celebrate their age.

This custom started a long time ago as an observance of becoming adults, when the boys were called into service, and ended up including also women in later years. This type of gathering became a tradition, when, as mature individuals, they decided to enjoy a day together reminiscing about childhood in the same school, and sharing joyful memories of that time.

I was happy to attend a couple of years ago, when I was visiting the little village where I grew up during WWII, and included also some pictures of the event in my blog of December 2006 (Italian time). I was invited again this year, but, due to other commitments, I could not participate. However, this morning, to my great surprise, I received an unexpected, but joyous, long phone call from this year's attendees, who took turns in wishing me well while regretting that I could not be with them. I joined them in spirit while their raised their wine glasses!!
(BTW, the wine produced in that village is well known and even mentioned in Italian literature since the 1300's)

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