Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday, is upon us once again. For many immigrants, Turkey Day is foreign and unfamiliar. Its significance as a day of giving thanks has been diluted by Hallmark and over-consumption. Spending and food coma. Nevertheless, we are grateful for all the blessings.
It took years before our family embraced this holiday. Initially we kept to ourselves and had quiet celebrations, but when our daughters became teenagers, their friends joined us and in true Filipino fashion, “family” included friends of friends. There was that year when the “Lopezes” numbered more than 40. It was a boisterous group and I gave up keeping any sort of control.
One Thanksgiving we had a guest who was visiting from Hongkong. It was her first Thanksgiving Day feast. She was filled with wonder at the merriment and at the food and the traditions that distinguish this holiday. I looked at her animated face and was brought back to that evening some thirty years before when Mitch and I didn’t have a clue.
We had Shop Rite supermarket to ourselves one Thursday in November in Newark, NJ. We thought there was some emergency that kept everyone away. “Where are all the people?” we asked. The man in charge of the produce section chuckled and rolled his eyes. “It’s Thanksgiving Day. You folks ought to be home carving your turkey.” We smiled without saying a word and walked away.
Our oldest daughter joined the cheerleading squad when she was in high school. She was the tiniest and the lightest member of the team, so she usually ended up at the top of their formations. She had an accident while practicing for one of those pyramids. We were not informed and would not have known about it but for its mention in one of the graduation speeches. Under most memorable moments.
That vision of her falling from that height still haunts me. (I am grateful she came out of it with life and limb intact.) But wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal cheering squad? Everyone’s morale needs boosting now and then. And everyone welcomes acknowledgement of their effort. We are a society that hardly ever says no.
Just like New Year, we make a Thanksgiving list. But unlike our first of the year resolutions, our grateful list is made with sincerity that warms the heart. After all, we give no promises (which can be broken). What we give is appreciation and thanks for the people who make life easy, enjoyable, and comfortable.
“Two-four-six-eight. Who do we appreciate?” This chant is familiar even to non-cheerleaders. So who do we appreciate? You. And me. And him. And her. We appreciate us. Even “it” for we love our pets. We especially appreciate the Creator Who made all things possible.
To the Almighty, I thank You. Life is a frenzy and sometimes its reason and meaning elude me. But life is good. The five senses reveal the majesty and the wonder of Your creation. The beauty of nature is free for all to enjoy. Even the harsh voices from disagreements make me appreciate the gift of speech, the gift of thought, the gift of discernment. The gift of choice.
I give thanks for my family who is my connection to the world – my husband who remains my lover and my friend; my children who are good and contributing citizens. My grandchildren are healthy, spunky, and curious. They will make their mark on the world someday. May they be guided by the best of intentions. And may their actions reflect a good heart and steadfast resolve. Moral. Ethical. Principled. May it be so.
And for you, my friends, may you find the fulfilment you are looking for. May laughter fill your days. May wonder never leave your heart. And may imagination and desire for knowledge never leave your mind.
Happy and safe Thanksgiving to all.