Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Today is my favorite holiday, hands down, bar none.

[Aside: The conscientious part of me, the "p.c." part you could say, feels obliged to say that I'm aware that for Indigenous Americans and Vegetarians, this is NOT a great day--or potentially not a great day--and I recognize both the history of Native American genocide/appropriation of lands and mythologizing of the "first" Thanksgiving, as well as the overly romanticized notions of American Indians that this perpetuates. And I'm aware of the millions (if not billions) of turkeys killed and consumed. So for my American Indian and Vegetarian readers, forgive me--I'm aware of the complexity of this day]

I begin the day with watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a ritual that began when I was three and living in NYC with my parents. There's a picture of me dressed up in a sky-blue ski suit--you know, the kind that covers the kid from head to toes with just an oval opening for your face to peek out. I'm holding one of those red twisty balloons, and my Dad is holding me, and there's this big crowd in the background. Since that time I've plopped myself on the couch of wherever I've been living and turned on the tv set to the Macy's parade. There aren't many rituals that I've kept as consistently as this one--I may eat different foods at different homes and at different times on Thanksgiving day, but at 9am in whatever time zone I'm in, I sit down and watch the parade.

Of course I also love the food.

Although turkey isn't my favorite protein, there's just something about the big roasted bird and the side dishes and the community eating that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Growing up we never had fewer than a dozen people over to Thanksgiving--typically our meals began at 1pm buffet style and featured ham in addition to turkey, along with white rice (I'm Chinese American--no meal is complete without rice), and with my grandparents (while they were still alive), aunts, uncles, cousins, and an occasional international student from my uncle's program (he's a professor of public health and often invited his grad students and post-docs from all over the world to join us). So between 16-20 people is the norm for Thanksgiving for me. And that many people and that much food meant lots of loud conversations and lively (and argumentative) discussions and my late uncle "F" taking a nap on the couch, snoring loudly, and then the second wind we would all get around 6pm.

So on this day I want to give thanks

*For my health. Corny, I know, but I'm watching the House marathon on the USA network right now, and anyone who has had someone close to them battle with a chronic illness or who has gone through a medical scare (or is undergoing a medical scare) knows how wonderful it is just to be healthy and have your body function the way you want it to.

*For my family and friends, because when things are really great or when I feel grief-stricken, it's my family and friends I count on.

*For stories, because I love stories--the ones I read, the ones I watch, and most of all, the ones you hear from others and the ones you create, in line at the grocery store, while riding the bus, or sharing stories over the dinner table.

*For my dog, which may sound silly to non-pet owners/dog lovers, but I love my dog. Just this morning I asked Southern Man whether he could imagine a time before we had "B"--and he said he couldn't, and we both smiled because we feel like our lives are richer for having him with us.

*For food and fellowship, because ultimately that's what this day means to me.

And finally, for a macabre look at Thanksgiving, I give you the cartoon below.



Sejal said...

i love you & am thankful for you and your friendship...

Jennifer said...

Ah, Sejal! I love you too and am very thankful you are in my life!