Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of all time, and before we start with the question-asking and finger-pointing, let’s go through my cultural history.
I am not a United States of American.
I am not so into the random, colonial slaughter of native peoples.
I really do not like candy corn.
I believe that pumpkin and sweet potatoes are some of the most wonderful veggies around, and their versatility in the dessert department only makes them that much more wonderful.
I think that if sage stuffing were involved in more matters of international relations – pork-free stuffing, people – we would be well on our way to world peace.
I spent a few Thanksgivings in the U.S. and enjoyed it, but it has only been in the last few years that I grew to love and appreciate this holiday. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a naturally thankful person, I guess you could say I err toward the melancholy and moody way of looking at things. People don’t come to me to look for pep and cheer, but when it comes to intensity, there’s no shortage here.
Thankfulness only survives because it is a discipline I choose to make a part of my life. It is the daily choice to see my circumstances differently, and it is the daily choice to hunt, to investigate, to aggressively search for the gifts God is giving me.
We invest daily in lifestyles and attitudes, and when we see something “big” in our lives, it is probably the thing that received our greatest investment of time and energy. I hope that one day a lifestyle of thankfulness will be so dominant in all areas in my life because I spent the years planting the seed, cultivating the soil, watering the plant and weeding the garden.
These are the years for this work because these are the years that are not easy. There is nothing easy about pregnancy, post-pregnancy, baby and growing baby on top of marriage, moving, learning languages and a host of other things. But cultivating an outlook of thankfulness when life is not easy gives me fuel to keep me going because joy is the cleanest, greenest, purest fuel of all. The best thing to keep my life going. The best gift I can give myself. The best gift I can give the people around me.
So for this November and every November to follow in our family’s lives, we celebrate Thanksgiving, reminding ourselves that today we can choose to be thankful and culminating in a Thanksgiving feast. Yes, we are a German-Sri Lankan/Filipino/American/Australian family. Yes, we live in Switzerland. Yes, we celebrate a wonderful, unique United States of American tradition even though we are not from the U.S. ourselves.
It is good to take a month of the year to remember that there is always a reason for which to be thankful.
The centre piece on our dining table for the month, the Thanksgiving Tree, an idea from a very creative and clever friend. We write what we’re thankful for on the leaves and hang them on the tree. A daily reminder that all is well.