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Thanksgiving Gratitude

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By Kimara - Posted on 22 November 2012

I first shared this post November, 2007. I don't think I could write anything else that better reflected how I feel this Thanksgiving or every day of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US friends, and to everyone, I wish you a year filled with abundant blessings and gratitude!

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some." ~Charles Dickens~

          In a couple of days it will be Thanksgiving, and I must admit, I know exactly how the Pilgrims felt. They invited their new Native American friends over for dinner, and they were astonished when they stayed for three days! Talk about a challenge! Those early American hostesses needed to figure out how to turn leftovers into savory meals that would nourish and sate a houseful of noisy guests for what was perhaps the first 3 day weekend! As I prepare for my out-of-town children to descend, I check and recheck the pantry and fridge to make sure I have enough on hand to keep their tummies full and their taste buds delighted. Unlike the Pilgrims, I have the luxury of planning our meals and sleeping arrangements, but I can visualize our creative foremothers, scratching their heads under their starched bonnets, and coming up with yet another way of serving the Thanksgiving bird! (Which, I’ve been told,  was pheasant, not turkey!)

            When thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving story, many delightful tales come to mind. There was the year my brother and his wife bought a turkey that was so huge it wouldn’t fit in a roaster, and they placed it directly on the lowest rack of the oven. (Instead of cleaning the oven afterward, they threw it out! They really did need a new oven, this just hastened the process!) Or the year my daughter brought home 2 college dinner guests. One was from India and one from Korea. Neither had celebrated an American Thanksgiving, and after loosening their belts and reaching comatose levels of gluttony, they whole-heartedly concurred that America was truly a wondrous place! Or the Thanksgiving when I threw up every 10 minutes (a terrible case of morning sickness) and was fearful that the smell of roasting turkey would forever be nauseating to me! (Fortunately, I got over that!)

            Finally, I decided to share a story that has nothing to do directly with Thanksgiving, but it is in fact, all about giving thanks. My mother grew up on a farm in a tiny town in Texas. My maternal grandmother, Bushia, had 13 children. Before she passed away she had buried four of her own children; her first born died of heart problems when she was just three days old, a ten month old son died of pneumonia just as he was learning to take his first steps, a son was killed in the Korean War, and her oldest son died of a heart aneurysm. I can’t even begin to imagine taking care of so many people while spending a total of TEN YEARS PREGNANT! But most significantly, I can’t imagine living in a time and place where common childhood illnesses were life threatening. (My fraternal great-grandparents lost all five of their children in one episode of influenza before leaving Poland and starting all over in America!)

            But on to my story! One day my cousin and I were visiting Bushia. We were sitting around the kitchen table comparing notes, and I suppose, complaining…a lot. (In our defense, I wish to point out, at the time neither of us were married, and we were bemoaning our boyfriends, not husbands and children, so I gotta think Bushia’s reaction was probably fueled by listening to her own daughters complain, and we were simply the recipients of the proverbial “final straw” syndrome!) She was busy fussing in the kitchen, coming in and out of the room, and not directly involved in our conversation. We were shocked and aghast when on one of her “pass-throughs” she stopped, slammed her hand on the table, and said, “You women have it so easy today. When I was a young woman I didn’t have dishwashers or washing machines. I couldn’t go to the grocery store to buy dinner, and there wasn’t a television to watch if I got bored. I didn’t worry about how much attention my husband was showing me, I was too busy! So was he. A good day was a day that everyone got fed and no one died. Stop whining and start being grateful for what you have.”

            With those words she went about her business…even in old age she was always busy making her house a home and providing for the comfort of others. And she was happy…or maybe a better word was content. My cousin and I continued to sit around the table talking, rather shame-faced, both making a silent pact to NEVER vent around Bushia again! But in my heart, I knew she was right. Not that our lives today are perfect and without worries. We have concerns today that my grandmother never had to contend with, but the most valuable lesson I learned that day was that happiness is not something given to you by other people or things; it’s something within you that permeates everything you do. Every day you can choose to focus on the things you don’t have or be grateful for the things that you do.

            So this Thanksgiving, and every night before going to sleep, I take a moment to ponder my day. In the simplest of terms, if I can say “Everyone was fed today and no one died” it WAS a good day, worthy of praise, and a reason for Thanksgiving!  

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I came over from your craft blog and I just wanted to thank you for sharing this beautiful story. What a worthwhile life lesson to ponder.

What a beautiful story. Thank YOU, Kimara, for sharing this. I am truly blessed and this post helped put things in perspective. God bless!

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Just lovely. Hope your day and year are full of joy and happiness.

Sammy

Lovely. Your Bushia sounds like my Nana. For them, when you're family has gone hungry, it is easy to remember your blessings. Each morning in circle we all share a gratitude for the day. Thank you for a wonderful article filled with wit and wisdom. Happy Thanksgiving, Kimara.

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