Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts 2010

AOG, Barcelona

I think it is a wonderful thing about my life that I've been lucky enough to have lived in many different places. 

From everywhere I've lived, a little something has stuck. In the case of my childhood and youth, Thanksgiving, as is celebrated in the US, has stuck. 

Not just in my life, in my family's life too.

Yesterday I called my mother and sister to wish them a happy Thanksgiving. I contacted friends in the US to do the same. I wished everyone on Facebook a Happy St. Turkey' day. And I flew to Barcelona to be with my partner on this day.

Of course, to most people in Spain (sorry, make that Europe), the idea of Thanksgiving just means the old cliché about Pilgrims and Indians eating a turkey.

I can see their point. 

Cultural relativism is still alive and well.

For me, it had nothing to do with a Turkey. In fact, we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. But, just before we started to eat, I pinky-held my partner's hands and gave thanks, in English.

Funny things about languages and memory. And feelings. I remember some things in one language, and others in another. And some in both.

Like my mobile number in Spain which I know only in Spanish, but my partner's number I know by heart only in English.

Similarly, yesterday I said thank  you in that language. Had I been forced to do it in Spanish, I would have had to practice before hand.

But the thing about this post, is that I had to think for a moment about the things I am grateful for. I think this year it was not a case of just going through the motions. I don't think it ever is. 

This is a link to what I wrote about Thanksgiving last year

Funny that both then and now I chose to mention the holiday.

Every year I've spent in the UK, I managed to gather a group of friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. And then I would meet my family to do much the same whenever possible. 

Of course for us, Thanksgiving day is more like Thanksgiving week. Just like birthdays are birthweeks and Christmas Day is a prolonged festivity.

It was not like this when we were kids, but modern life has this "feature" whereby you want to do one thing, and it ensures things develop in a different direction. 

So for us, what became important was not so much the day itself, more the celebration of an occasion which mean something important, never mind the date itself.

This weekend I am planning to have some friends over here in Barcelona and celebrate with them Thanksgiving.

So yesterday, I gave thanks for many things. For being able to have someone like my partner to have dinner with and celebrate the day; for having a loving family to whom wish a Happy Thanksgiving to; for being in good health (or at least alive!); for being happy (at least at that moment).

Yesterday, a good friend of mine posted this quote from the deceased Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, on Facebook:

"I have been happy almost everyday of my life, at least for a little while, even in the most adverse circumstances".

I can't help but think about it ever since I read it. 

Isn't it true that we are happy, even for a short while, even on our worst days? I guess I never stopped to think about it. 

Even when I'm having a bad day. Or a bad week (can we say decade?), it is also true that, for short spurts of time, I am happy.

And for this too I gave thanks. For the ability to see things a little different.

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