Thanksgiving is a time where many people yearn for home. To be with family. It’s a time where people take a moment, a pause, to reflect on life and say their thank yous. I embrace this holiday because of the memories I have made alongside my family. Now it’s my turn to carry forward the tradition so when my son grows up, he’ll have real warm stories of his childhood.
I’m hosting my second Thanksgiving this year and I’m doing things a bit differently than my mom. Though I must admit how perfect her Thanksgivings were. Filled with jubilance and the smell of a roasted turkey. It meant game night, where there was a lot of yelling, especially my brother and I who are stubbornly competitive. However, once you have your own family, once you become a mom, you become a sort of artist, with greater ingenuity, and a long list of DIY Thanksgiving craft ideas for kids, as you begin your own customs.
I understand Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks, of showing your deepest gratitude to those you love. (It’s also the busiest time for travel) Not for me. That’s not to say I’m not thankful. I am. I’m genuinely grateful to the man/woman who kindly gives up their seat in the train because they see me carrying my son. I’m grateful to the person who holds the door for me so I can push the stroller through with one hand, as I carry my tea in the other. I thank those who pass me by and say, “God Bless your son.” It’s important to be grateful everyday. But let’s not forget the giving too. I’m not trying to undermine or ignore the heart of Thanksgiving. I appreciate the significance of the holiday and it’s history. So with that in mind, when I think of this day, I remember my brother and I watching the Macy’s Day Parade in our pajamas while laying on our sofa, anxiously waiting for the end, as Santa marches down with the Mrs. reindeers, and elves. I’m thankful for those warm memories. It’s much more than that though. Thanksgiving to me means love, peace, family and food. Lots of food! It also means Christmas (my favorite holiday!) is one month away.
So in honor of the spirit of Thanksgiving, this year I’m thankful for…
There’s the obvious.
My son and his health. I want to thank him for his boundless affection. The way he moves his face in front of me and looks straight into my eyes, smiles and places a big blob of drool on my lips. For his contagious laughter when I have reached my wits ends. For naps and bedtime stories and the way he sits on his Father’s lap and watches in awe how he recites his favorite nursery rhymes. For the rare times he sleeps more than 8 hours at a stretch, and of course for his friend Raffi, whose wholesome songs have touched my son.
My health. I was diagnosed with MS 4 years ago. Truth be told, I handled that like a royal loser. (I wrote about it here ) For about a year, I despised life. Whether I lived or didn’t (MS is not a terminal disease by the way) made no difference to me. I even engaged in activities to make matters worse, like smoking cigarettes. Pathetic. Then my husband came into my life and threw a life jacket my way. In hindsight, I was a coward and that’s disappointing to me as someone who prides herself in her strength. The good news is that I’m ok. Actually I am better than ok. I’m alive mentally and emotionally! I have had no symptoms in the past two years since I resigned from my job and I’m taking steps to some pretty big lifestyle changes. All to better myself and with the hope of overcoming this. I can beat this and I will. I want to be around for my son for as long as I can. He’s my motivation.
My Husband. For his humor in the most unexpected times. For his generosity and his different, very different perspective on things, which most of the times open my eyes to something new. For his unconditional love to our son. For the way he reads to him while never taking his eyes off him. For the laughs he always gets out of him so easily. For being more than a Father to him. For teaching our son that he is also his Friend.
Family and their health. My mother, my confidante. My two adorations: my brother and sister. My adoring and loving grandmother. And the sweetest people in the world, my in-laws (MIL and DIL). For my Tia and Uncle and cousins who I miss dearly.
Friends and their health: Green Eyes, Josie, Leeca, Nanners, Meredith, Marilyn, Jennie, Raquel, Cynthia, to name a few.
And the not so obvious:
My writing. Or shall I say the time, the opportunity to write. Time is limited since I became a mom. Hence, any chance I get to write, makes me more than grateful. I am living one of my dreams.
Strength. Not the physical kind. But a mental and emotional strength I sometimes forget I have.
Being a SAHM. I’m lucky. Very lucky to be able to stay home and raise my son. To be able teach him and instill in him the things I want him to embrace or at least hope he does. I am fortunate that I don’t have to leave him at a daycare in the care of strangers, however kind they may be. I am lucky that it is I, his mother who gets to share the next 3 years with him up until he starts Pre-K. I would be devastated if it was any other way. And all of this is due to my husband who takes care of the both of us. So another big thank you to him!
It seems like a rather short list, but I wanted to share the most important.
Now continuing with the heart of Thanksgiving, I wanted to make my table setting special. I bought burlap utensil holders and inscribed is the word “Thankful.” Changing things up a bit, I printed out some Thanksgiving conversation starters and will have everyone pin it on my wall. In addition, I’ve brought down our board games, and Taboo is definitely a family favorite. We’ll be doing the usual. Watching the Macy’s parade (I am sure I’ll take my son to see this in person one day and definitely let him see the balloon inflations on the eve of Thanksgiving.) and definitely football. Who’s playing this year? Of course, there will be lots of eating. It’s the only day of the year I really do shamelessly eat. We’ll have Pastelitos. This is my husband’s favorite. From Indian origin, he’s still trying to get use to the idea of eating turkey. But I’m working on it! And as with every holiday, Dominicans cannot go without having moro de guandules. I’ll top off my gluttony with some pumpkin pie cheesecake.