Today is Thanksgiving... in the United States. It's not like Christmas, or Easter, or even Armistice Day because it's a celebration unique to North Americans. Because of that, it's a lonely day in these parts. And I couldn't scare up a soul last night on email, skype or facebook; everybody was busy with their preparations. At times like these, I have to continually remind myself that it was my choice.
When I was a child, I hated Thanksgiving. It was a boring holiday where friends disappeared from view and the ONLY thing to do was watch a parade on TV in the morning and then EAT. To make it worse we were usually relegated to the "children's table" which never pleased me. Especially when we were with relatives whose children were as boring as a boiled turkey. We always got the card table, a rickety affair that threatened to buckle under the weight of the food and the benign conversation. Oh, how I hated the "kid's table"; adult conversation was far more interesting. Afterwards, the women would clean up, the men would sit around in a half-stupor, and I'd have to find something to do with those same, boring kids. Yawn. And just when I thought it was all going to come to a thankful end, the women would start reheating food and it was time to eat again.
Fast forward to adulthood as a mom with children. I LOVED Thanksgiving. It became a holiday that we shared with not only family, but neighbors, friends and anyone else that just had nowhere to go. It always did my heart good to have the people that I cared about around my table (or tables as the case often was). As an adult, I came to understand what "thankful" really meant.
We began the tradition of playing the "Turkey Bowl" in the neighborhood, a football game that involved each and every person and some we imported from other neighborhoods. Those that didn't want to play, took their places on the sidelines with a glass of wine or a cosmo and took up the serious job of cheering. Whenever the suggestion was made that this year we might possibly go elsewhere for Thanksgiving, my kids and all the neighbor kids dug in their heals. "We can't miss the Turkey Bowl!"
When I left my old life, leaving my Thanksgiving tradition was probably the most difficult thing. But it doesn't mean I'm not thankful. And as I imagine my family and friends around their tables this year...
I'm thankful for my health and my still-imagined youth.
I'm thankful for the 2 creatures born of me that have become such interesting and wonderful men.
I'm thankful for the opportunity to make choices in my life. Even if they sometimes make me feel sad.
I'm thankful for the blue sky in Provence and the brilliant, crispness of Minnesota winters.
I'm thankful for the gift of observation and the realization that it's a gift.
I'm thankful for peanut butter, fois gras and good red wine.
I'm thankful for a lifetime of the best memories ever. And the continued ability to remember them!
I'm thankful for a peaceful, exceptional childhood.
I'm thankful to have sweet memories of my gentle father, a mom who still kicks my ass from time to time, and a sister who is my best friend.
I'm thankful for the internet which allows me to remain close to those I love.
I'm thankful for those who have been my family whenever I've had to be away from my family of birth.
I'm thankful for lifelong friends who are always there in spite of distance and change of circumstance.
And I'm thankful for the promise of the future. Whatever it may bring.
Thanksgiving is a moment to push away those things that threaten to consume us...the negative things...and take a moment to thank whomever it is we choose to thank for all that has made our lives good. Past, present and future.
Today, as I was getting an insurance estimate for my new car, I was told I need an attestation that I've been previously insured in my country. I replied that I might not be able to get it until next week because today is a big celebration in my country and nobody is working. The insurance agent smile and said, "Yes, that's true. Today is the Tahnkz-gee-veen". At that moment, just having somebody here know that it's Thanksgiving, gave me a little turkey buzz!
So, Happy Tahnkz-gee-veen to all, wherever you may be. We all need a day to count our blessings and I, for one, am thankful for you all.