Thanksgiving was never a big holiday in my mind, primarily because I don’t like turkey or stuffing or washing dishes. It was one of those obligatory days that I would spend at someone else’s house, following their traditions, and wishing other people accepted that pie could be a first course. Frankly, it was often a chore, with hungry little kids and a three hours late turkey.
When we moved away from our families, it was just a day. For several years running, we used the holiday weekend to tackle projects around the house. We didn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving, and we didn’t miss it.
Then, last year, because my mom had not been feeling well, I flew back east to spend the week with her and my son, and with his girlfriend, my sister and nieces, etc. I had a blast! It was without a doubt, my best Thanksgiving ever.
This year, I’ve been looking forward to Thanksgiving since July, when I last saw my east coast family. I’m now counting down the days until I leave – two weeks from today! This year, I’m taking my daughter, too.
In the meantime, I am being mindful of enjoying my everyday life here. In that pursuit, I bought a zoo membership in October, so I could spend pleasant hours watching animals do funny things like this tiger who licked a fence and decided it did not taste good at all.
A few years ago, I adopted this resolution, and it has been a great encouragement to me. Meditating on it helped me to see joy as a virtue equal to thankfulness and to understand that my desire to be happy is not selfish or shallow. It gives me permission to let my husband buy me a plane ticket home because, yes, that extra week of joy is worth the expense. It is worth it to me, to my mom, to my son, to my sister, and to my husband, who gets a happy wife and doesn’t have to wait all day for a turkey dinner he never really wanted.
Be joyful always.
Pray without ceasing.
Give thanks in all circumstances.
For this is God’s will for me in Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, paraphrased)