Thursday, November 24, 2016

Turning Thanksgiving to Thanksliving.....

"Thus out of small beginnings, greater things have been produced by His hand, that made all things that are. . . and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shows unto many. . . yea in some sort to our whole nation."    --William Bradford, founder and governor of Plymouth Colony

"Behold our family (and friends) here assembled. We thank Thee for this place in which we've gathered, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded us this day; for the hope with which we expect the morrow, for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful; and for our family and friends in all parts of the earth. Let peace abound in our small company. --Robert Louis Stevenson

Today is my third Thanksgiving here in Qatar. I have celebrated with people from India, Pakistan, Jordan, UK, Canada, and many other countries in our Thanksgiving feasts. Some of them have heard about Thanksgiving from movies, and they wanted to get a peek into our American holiday. I have not always had a turkey and the usual pumpkin pies with them, but a more varied mix of food, like curries and meat pies. Yet the familiarities can, with some effort, be somewhat duplicated here. But today I find myself stripped of many traditions, and thinking about my abundant blessings.

I am thankful for wonderful family and friends who inspire and support me every day--at my daughter's wedding in September.
A few days ago my brother-in-law sent me a picture that said, "In case you have forgotten the summer of 2016, here is a picture to have a laugh." I am standing with one boot (feeling very lucky and blessed to be standing) at my daughter's wedding. I had already been sitting in a chair for almost two months after my ankle was broken. From my experience this year with my injury, I have decided to have a life of "Thanks Living." I want to be grateful every, every day for dear family, friends, my faith, health, nature, raindrops (they are very scarce here in the Middle East), music, art, good books, savory soups, and thousands of things.

I am grateful, more than I can ever express, to be able to walk again--after a bad fall. I never want to forget, ever, ever how lucky I am to walk. I want to always remember to walk in better paths. Blog post on Learning to Walk Again

A few years ago, my good friend, Joy, began a tradition on Thanksgiving Eve. Friends and family gathered at The Old Stone Church in St. Louis, a familiar spot on The Underground Railroad where a few slaves are buried. On those Thanksgiving Eves, we gathered to express gratitude before the feasts with music and stories. There was no heating, not much light, and an old organ that you had to pump to hear the music. As we shivered and saw the cold breath spout from our mouths, we listened to others' blessings. Our hearts united; for a small moment in time, we remembered our blessings. It was the perfect preface for the next day of turkey and pumpkin pie.

Now living far from Turkey Trots, Turkey Rolls (sliding a frozen turkey across a gym floor like a bowling ball) to knock some pins down, and more particularly family and old friends, we will continue our Gratitude Gatherings or Thanksgiving Eves. I can spend dozens of hours shopping and cooking a feast, and it can be gone in a few minutes. But the real bonds happen around the table, the UNO game, the nature walk--and those can be done anytime of year.

So light a large candle, and let the melted wax drip--until it vanishes away. Talk about your blessings. Express your love. Make every moment count. Turn your Thanksgiving into "Thanks Living."