Land That I Love

We’re taking our annual vacation, and this year Becky participated in a volleyball tournament overseas that took us back to Italy. The scheduling couldn’t have been more perfect, as we had a previously-booked cruise with my parents that departs from Venice, and the volleyball tour ends in Venice the day before our boat leaves. So we packed up the remaining younger three kids and headed over to Europe for them to share in the experience.

I have made no secret of the fact that I love Italy. I now know that I need to clarify that broad and general statement. You see, our experiences with Italy have been best experienced from a cruise ship ~ our favorite form of travel. We unpack our suitcases, one time, and the ship drops us off at a beautiful port where we explore the area either on foot or an air-conditioned motor coach, and we make sure to return to the docks in plenty of time for the ship’s departure for the next port-of-call. This trip, however, we experienced in a dramatically different way. We were real, nitty gritty tourists. Tourists that walked for blocks and blocks dragging two weeks worth of suitcases over cobblestone streets. So, maybe it was the near-oppressive heat, or it may be that there isn’t a Starbucks in the entire country, but I found myself really appreciating America, the Land that I Love, as the lyrics say.

If you’re a regular reader, you already know that I love America, and appreciate all that it stands for. But I’m a firm believer that if we’re not careful we can take the things and the people that we love for granted, and this week has been a not-so-subtle reminder of some of the blessings of living in the land of the free and the brave. It’s too easy to sit around griping and complaining about the government, it’s policies and restrictions; but we’ve got so much to be thankful for.

We’re here in Venice ~ the land of singing gondoliers through beautiful streets of water. We arrived at the train station and our hotel a short walk away was a welcome sight. But in order to get there, we needed to cross the canal, up and down steps dragging that two weeks’ worth of luggage:

There isn’t an elevator, an escalator, or a people mover…this wouldn’t fly in America. And that’s a wonderful thing! Thank God we’re young and healthy instead of feeble or handicapped; I’m not sure how welcoming Venice is towards those that live with physical challenges. We can get a little annoyed with America and it’s health codes and restrictions, but after seeing some of the kitchens of the sidewalk Trattorias, I’m thankful for the strict requirements we’re required to adhere to in our country.

So, lest I’m sending the message that my feelings for Italy have cooled, this really isn’t about that. I simply have a renewed appreciation for the opportunities and blessings of America. Here, though, are a few things that I appreciate about Italy:

God Bless you, America. I appreciate you!

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