Thanksgiving is finally here! I get very excited for this holiday because who wouldn’t? There is turkey waiting to get in my belly, there is good food to accompany it and most of all, there is family and friends to gather and share it with. Thanksgiving is a day when many of us get excited for food and very few truly use the day for its true purpose, Thanksgiving is to be a day of gratefulness. The day we take a close look into our current lives and find those things deep within that we are truly grateful for. Thanksgiving evening is a moment of truth for me, I take the opportunity to look inside and find what I am truly grateful for; not when I am feeling pressured to say what I am thankful for around the table, but to really be grateful internally with me as a witness. We will partly credit that to the tryptophan in the turkey and the many pounds of stuffing I stuff my face with, oh and did I mention the green beans casserole? I finally found my kind of vegetable that I don’t need a dietitian to force me to eat LOL. The pumpkins that survived the Halloween craze are finally being put to good use, at least according to me, the pumpkin pie. I was very reluctant at first, mostly because like many of my first meals in the US, there is always that surprising recipe that uses familiar ingredients in a way that I had never tasted before, I have known about pumpkin my entire life, but back home it was used as a starch, we cut pumpkins, boil them and eat them with beans, and now I get to savor them sweetened into a pie for desert. Before I go on a longer tangent about food than I intended for at the beginning of this post, let me get back to the point which is the things in my life that I am truly thankful for.
1.A little family to call my own.
When I first got in the US I was welcomed by many as part of their family. I remember my second thanksgiving in the US, an act of kindness that has stuck with me all this long was from a woman that I had just met. I had just joined a church the weekend previous to Thanksgiving in 2008, I met a woman who welcomed me without hesitation and sat with me that Sunday. We started talking and that is when I learned that she did not have much of a family of her own in the area but she was invited to a thanksgiving dinner by one of her friends. She asked me a surprising question I will not forget, “Do you have a family to join for thanksgiving?” to which I replied no and she continued to ask me if I was willing to join her for a simple meal. “It won’t be fancy” she added, but my friend is hosting a thanksgiving for her family and she is including people who live far from family or who have no family of their own. I am not going to lie I did feel reluctant a little given the fact that she was merely an acquaintance at the time but I was intrigued. So I accepted the invitation and man did I have fun, the family just welcomed me at the mention of my name, they showed me to the food, made sure I had some kind of company throughout the entire time and truly made me feel welcome. That family’s warmth and love is engraved in me as a representation of what the American Thanksgiving is all about; family and friends gathering around a stuffed bird just to count and share their blessings.
A few years later here I am with a family to call my own, I feel very blessed every day that I am fortunate to have people around to share this holiday. My little family means the world to me. I am hoping to bring that warmth that I felt at my first American thanksgiving dinner and hopefully extend it to people around me who have families too far to join.
2. A home to call my own.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, There were 31.1 million new internal displacements by conflict, violence and disasters in 2016. This is the equivalent of one person forced to flee every second. When I think about how many people have been displaced this year by natural disasters, war and conflicts, financial hardship it makes me appreciate the fact that I am able to sleep in a sheltered bed. I have lived without a home as a refugee and I can assure you there is nothing fancy about sleeping in a tent or outside involuntarily, the cold, the fear, the despair that these people feel every day you can’t even fathom. I truly enjoy the warmth of a home in this cold weather and I am very appreciative and deeply grateful of my home and the people that I share it with.
3. Health and life in general.
I recently broke my ankle and that experience has given me a deeper appreciation of my physical health as it is. It made me think of a conversation I had with a friend a few years back, we were just talking about life in general and he listened to the stories of my past and the hardships within and he confided in me that sometimes he feels like he doesn’t have enough hardships in his life to strengthen and backup his praise. He mentioned that may be if he had things he overcame he could learn to appreciate more what he has now, otherwise all this has always been my normal, he concluded. My response was that there is no joy in going through the trials, you might come out with a great testimony but enduring is nothing to be envied. We should not wait to live a life without in order to appreciate the life with that we are blessed to lead. There is a French saying that “Tant qu’il y a la vie, il y a toujour de l’espoir”, which translate to “as long as there is life there is always hope”. Life in itself gives us hope, it is a promise that anything can happen. I am very grateful for the journey of life I am on today; the good, the bad and the downright ugliness in it. This time I encourage you to take a moment to be grateful just by yourself, to look within and find that one or two or many things that you truly feel grateful for in the secret of your own heart.