Last year I shared my Thanksgiving thoughts, and expressed my gratitude for several things, including the opportunity to travel the world. I wrote about how thankful I was for a supportive family and flexible job, and wrote:
“I feel that taking advantage of this opportunity to travel helps me outwardly express my gratitude for such great blessings!”
This year I feel like I’ve come full circle. After living out of my home country for 2 1/2 years, and spending much of that time traveling throughout Mexico, Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, I am really happy to say that this year I am enjoying the comfort of Thanksgiving traditions among extended family in the US.
Each Thanksgiving I’ve had has been an experience to remember—whether it has been among literal family, or among those close friends who I like to consider as part of my extended world family!
For starters, I want to express my gratitude for parents who taught me by example to respect other’s cultures and heritage. My most memorable Thanksgivings growing up were those that were shared with friends that my parent’s invited over—for example, I specifically remember the year we had tamales with our Mexican friends, and the year we had Chinese food with our friends from China! I guess this is one reason that I wasn’t too disappointed when our travels took us elsewhere during a significant US holiday—because my holiday traditions have always been pretty flexible.
I’ve appreciated the last several Thanksgivings in Thailand and Mexico, and this year I am excited for my eyes (and stomach) to feast upon a table full of stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce and desserts that will have me rolling on the floor from gluttony this evening.
Of course, Thanksgiving is about so much more than just the food (or football), and I think it’s a great opportunity to stop and reflect upon our blessings during a time of year when people tend to become quite materialistic and self-focused. If only the roots of Thanksgiving could stretch out over the next month, I imagine Christmas would be an entirely different holiday experience!
In the meantime, I will try to stay focused on all I DO have, and try to ignore the media that encourages me to think about all I should want.
I have so much to be grateful for, and our travels have only opened my eyes even more to my immense blessings!
My life began with my parents, and for that I am forever indebted. I won the birth lottery being raised in such a loving home to such genuinely wonderful parents!
In all of our crazy travels and plans, my parents have been full-heartedly supportive. They haven’t laid on any guilt about us living far away, and they’ve never made me feel ashamed to have the dreams I’ve had. I can’t thank them enough for that, because I’m realizing what a rare breed they are. I’m sure they haven’t always agreed with my choices, but they have offered their unconditional love on every turn of the road. They are some of the very best people I know.
I’m thankful for a husband who is loving, faithful, kind hearted, and ever-so-patient. He is my everything, and my match in faith, life and eternity.
I’m thankful for my children who make me work daily to be a better person. Kids certainly bring out he worst and best in people, and I’m constantly striving to bury the worst and work on becoming the parent I think they deserve.
I love Ella’s maturity, and her deep desire to make her mom and dad proud. She is an intense little 8 1/2 year old, and is a deep thinker and planner. She can be so affectionate and loving, and is a great big sister! Maiya is so goofy at times, and she has a great joking personality that makes everyone smile. Ethan just has a smile and freckles that continue to melt me, and I love that he still gives me hugs and kisses. I wish he would stay little forever! Eli’s baby face reminds me that all is right in the world. When the world (or house) is in chaos around me, I delight in his sweetness and ability to just be happy with his mommy!
I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters and extended family, including in-laws of every sort. It is a joy to be related to people who I would choose as friends!
And I’m also thankful for those friends who I would choose as family! I’m thankful that they stretch me and teach me to be more compassionate and sympathetic of others. I’m thankful for those friends that buoy me up, and encourage me to grow in every respect. I’m thankful for friends all over the world who have entered my heart and will never leave.
I’m grateful for my church that teaches unconditional Christ-like love, and respect for all. I’m thankful that no matter where I go in the world, my church is there to open its arms and bring me into the fold. I’m grateful to be among a wonderful church family that encourages and inspires me, serves others selflessly, and teaches me through example.
I’m grateful for the beauty of this earth. It is a living testament of God’s love for us, and I can’t help but look around and bask in the utter complexity and immenseness of it all! It truly “passes all my understanding”!
I’m thankful for a job that I love. I’m grateful that it gives me an opportunity to serve others and help them grow in their success. Their success is my success, so it is very fulfilling! I’m grateful that it has provided the income and flexibility required for us to do all that we do.
Lastly, while I am so grateful for the travels we’ve done as of late, and I am also so thankful for my current opportunity to slow down and smell the roses (or pines needles, in this case). I’m thankful for our recent home purchase in Southern Oregon, allowing us to establish a base and set down roots that provide us the opportunity to have new experiences and growth.
It is not the end to our travels, but it gives us a solid foundation in which we can grow talents and friendships at home, in between our expeditions that help to grow our perspective and knowledge.
Life is a gift, and it is meant to be lived! I am grateful for my blessings each day, and I hope that I can show this gratitude by living life fully.
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
How are you going to show your thanks this coming year?