As a child, I adored Thanksgiving. Of course, there isn’t as much in it for a kid — no piles of presents like at Christmas or Easter Bunny to bring chocolates, but still I loved Thanksgiving. I wasn’t an increadibly mature or respectful child, but I enjoyed the opportunity to see my extended family members. Thanksgiving always meant that there were cousins and family friends to play with, Grancha to talk to when the playing was done, and uncles to tease me. I didn’t know it, but I had the true spirit of Thanksgiving although I could not articulate what I was thankful for then.
It is only 2 ‘o clock, but I am writing in here because today is Thanksgiving and it will be too late to write when I go to bed tonight. But I have to write now because I am SO excited! It seems so long until they will all come.
An excerpt from my journal, October 2004
I still remember the first time I made pumpkin pie. Both of my grandmothers, Situ and Grancha, had come that year. I was twelve-years-old and proudly smiled when everyone told me it was one of the best they’d ever tasted. I eagerly anticipated my littlest cousin’s birth that Thanksgiving, too. Next year, around the annual turkey dinner, she would be there, crawling around from lap to lap.
“I’ve written a poem about Thanksgiving,” I announced the next year. It was one of my first poems, written for my Grade 8 poetry assignment. “It’s called Thanksgiving Sounds and it’s an Onomatopia.”
Stir, slosh, swish, sizzle
Many hands are at work
Ding, dong, rat, rat-a-tat-tat
Sounds are coming from the door
Buzz, chirp, sqawk, yak, murmer
Friends and relatives converse
Clatter, clack, thud
Dinner is served
Smack, gulp, crunch, chew
Dinner is gobbled up in a hurry
Buzz, chirp, squawk, yak, murmur
The room is filled with endless chatter once again
“Thanksgiving Sounds,” October 2007
At sixteen, Thanksgiving was a gloomy affair. My grandmother, Situ, died on October 7th, 2010, three days before Thanksgiving Sunday. We had a small gathering on Saturday that year, but I don’t remember much of it except that I was incredibly sad and not very thankful. There was no pumpkin pie because I hadn’t made one. All I could think about was what I didn’t have instead of what I did have.
What do I have to be thankful for this year, God? A funeral to go to, a grandma who is dead, perpetual grief, and depression?
My thoughts in October 2010
Each of those memories seems so long ago now, yet they flood back to me in an instant when I ponder the word Thanksgiving. In a way, part of me is grateful for each of those years and Thanksgivings — even the sad one. Because God shaped me into the person I am today through all of those experiences. Each Thanksgiving is part of me, just as each year is, and I wouldn’t give it up if I could.
This Thanksgiving, I am a first-year university student. I’ll be studying Spanish verbs and the history of Ancient Greek Art and writing an English essay draft this weekend. Like every other year, it’s a different Thanksgiving from before. I have new worries, troubles, thoughts, prayers, and joys. But I am thankful because of a verse that keeps coming back to me. It doesn’t promise perfection or happiness, but it does promise peace. The peace of prayer and a thankful heart.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.