“There is a holiday tomorrow in America, Does anyone know what holiday it is?” I ask my high school students. This past week I’ve been starting my classes with this question and following up with a a slideshow all about Thanksgiving. (A slideshow I made last year, woo!) Some look at me blankly and others are quick to blurt out it’s Día de Acción de Gracias, Thanksgiving.
They all get hungry when they see photos of food and complain that I’m making them hungry- sorry guys, but a presentation on Thanksgiving has got to show photos of food and I won’t lie, my tummy grumbles with photos a typical Thanksgiving plate of food. A few jaws drop when they see a photo of pumpkin pie; “pumpkin as a desert?” Yup that’s right kiddos, in America we eat pumpkins as a savory food and as a desert. And we like to carve them too.
As the presentation nears to an end, I explain Thanksgiving is also a time to reflect on what you’re thankful for and I ask them to think about what they’re grateful for and share with the class. Most are shy to share. Surprise surprise. And in a class of 20-30 students, it’s a lot harder to try to have each speak vs. a class of 8 when I implied it was a requirement to talk last year.
But in each class, there are a handful of students who speak up.
“I’m thankful for being alive.” “I’m thankful for my friends.” “For food.” “For my family.” “For being loved.” Some laugh at this comment and I tell them, there is no right or wrong answer.
And on hearing this, some say, “My laptop and my mobile phone,” two students say.
Those are things to be grateful for, as well, as not everyone has these things.
This is my second Thanksgiving on the Iberian Peninsula and being away from home, though certainly not the only two times I’ve been away from my family during the-turkey-induced- sleep -coma holiday. As I grow wiser, I find turkey day is less about the food, (though I’m starting to really appreciate my home-made stuffing)and it’s more about spending time with friends/family and being grateful.
This year I’m far from my family and USA friends but I’m grateful for the expats I know here as well as Basque and Spanish folks I’m slowly getting to know who have opened their doors to me and have invited me to various events. I still find it incredible I’ve only been here for 2 months, it feels a lot longer.
Here are a few things I’m grateful for:
- My family who has always supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams even if it means I’m far away from them.
- My friends, near and far, who have been very supportive of me through thick and thin. This summer, they showed me how incredibly supportive they are. I feel forever grateful. They showed their sadness that I would be far from them for another 9 months but they understood my reasons and need to return.
- Having this opportunity to come back to Spain and this time live in the North and live and learn in Basque Country.
- For the opportunity to live abroad; experience what it’s like to participate in another culture with a various twist on living life. While learning more about myself, what I want in my life, as well as learn more about my father and gain a glimpse into what it must have been like for him to make the decision to move to America and stay for the long-term.
- Being reminded that life is a journey and not a destination. Sometimes where we think we’re headed, isn’t quite the direction for us… yet… We can only control so much and often life has a better plan. Be patient. (This is a tough one for me to always remember but this year seems to be constantly seems to be reminding me!)
- The constant reminder of letting go while simultaneously focusing and trusting in the the power of manifesting– putting positive ideas and energy “out there” and allowing things to fall into place.
- For all the traveling I’ve been able to do so far, my memories are a treasure and my experiences have shaped who I am today. To all the people I’ve met on my travels (and in life), who have inspired me in one way or another, or opened their doors to me or offered me a meal or a hot cup of tea, when I needed it most.
- And quoting/paraphrasing my friend Guri- for all the good the bad and challenging I’ve faced in my life, which has shaped who I am and how I view the world.
- I’m grateful to be alive!
What are you grateful for?