I moved from Latin America to the United States 20 years ago and even though I had heard about the Thanksgiving holiday, the celebration was not part of my life. At that time it was just another holiday implying 4 to 5 days off from work, and the possibility to buy stuff at unbelievable prices.
With that idea in mind, I spent my first Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, traveling, not to spend time with relatives but to visit new places and have fun. We went to Las Vegas and we in fact had lots of fun. The following year we did the same thing, but we were a little more adventurous, we maximized our time and went to London. The third year we were even more audacious, we were really into traveling during Thanksgiving, so we went to Venice and Rome.
It was during the fourth year when things started to change. The child of a couple we used to travel with was old enough to go to school, where children immerse into the history and traditions of Thanksgiving for the whole month of November if not more, so we learned more about the holiday and that inspired us to stay in town and celebrate.
As you probably know, Thanksgiving is celebrated with a feast and the main character in that feast is the turkey. In Latin America we don’t eat that much turkey, when it comes to celebrate the staple is pork so despite the tradition, the first time we celebrated Thanksgiving we had pork and we accompanied it with our favorite Latin American side dishes. We had lots of fun, we showed the child in our group the importance of the holiday, and we expressed gratitude, which at the end is what matters.
The following year the child in our group was not only looking forward to celebrating, but she was also literally looking forward to seeing the turkey on the table (that is what she had learnt at school), so we decided to order the whole Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant because we really didn’t know how to cook the turkey and all other staples that are supposed to come with it. Again, we had lots of fun and we felt good because we had followed the tradition and we had given the child in our group the appropriate material to share at school regarding her Thanksgiving celebration. However, the food we ordered was not that fabulous so the following year we decided to cook.
Thanksgiving was growing on us with all its rituals and most of all with all its great significance applicable to everybody regardless race or creed.
Since then, year after year, we celebrate and we engage into the holiday traditions, honoring those who put them together for the first time. Nowadays our turkey and long-established side dishes that go with it are delicious, and they’re all homemade!
Since then, we feel proud of allowing the spirit of the holiday permeate our lives and inspire us to give thanks.
Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, make every day a Thanksgiving Day… when you shift your concentration from what you lack to consciously acknowledge the value of what you have, you transform your life and you get more to be grateful for.
Therefore, I recommend you practice gratitude every day… make it a habit!