My first Thanksgiving in the US was celebrated with my Cuban American friend and accountant Joe Delgado and his delightful extended family. The year was 1980 and the place was Atlanta Georgia. I had recently opened my company there in bustling downtown’s Peachtree Center and in awe of the opportunities and atmosphere of this rapidly expanding Southern City, I worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week. Joe was a delightfully charming guy who could make me laugh at the drop of a hat and make me realize the need for balance and gratitude.
My first introduction to this favorite American Holiday was magic. I knew I was invited because I was his employer and I was new to the city, but most of all because he and I had an instant report. He made Thanksgiving hands down my favorite holiday.
No frantic gift-giving like the commercialized version of Christmas, no excessive alcohol consumption and forced gaiety like New Year’s Eve. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving is so easy going, it doesn’t even require that folks exchange cards, which by the way can set you back $7 to $10 easily these days.
Thanksgiving celebrates the basics: food, family, and friends and the deep fun that accompanies taking the time to enjoy life’s simple but most gratifying pleasures. And the icing on the cake, Thanksgiving encourages us‚ in its characteristically quiet and understated way‚ to take note of the things in our lives that are positive. And that dear readers we do need in these trying times. We need beacons in the dark that guide us back to the things that really matter to each and everyone of us on this earth: simple pleasures shared with family and friends.
Gratitude is absolute power
It’s easy for many of us to fall into the trap of feeling that life is a never-ending struggle, where letting your guard down for a moment can mean ruin and every day is another day that the ever-growing Must Do list fails to get done. Yep, I make my daily lists and it never fails…at the end of the day, often a 14 hour day, only less than half of the tasks on the list have been properly addressed.
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are a very fortunate person indeed, but I have a feeling you may know a little about the outlook I’m describing.
How do we get ourselves out of this particular no win trap?
Well my half French heritage may give you an answer to that dilemma. French people, especially in the countryside, live life in the balance. It’s a centuries’ old tradition that food is the main staple of relaxation. Daily gratitude for a splendidly cooked meal, shared with your loved ones is the answer to sleeping better, feeling better, and motivating yourself to take better care of your health. Regular thanksgiving sessions work magic.
Thanksgiving once a month -once a week -once a day
In the US we celebrate Thanksgiving once a year and, as I’m writing this story, I can witness the production that’s going on in my kitchen. I keep my office door open this morning to react to frantic calls for assistance but TJ and Thom seem to have it all under control.
So what if we had a Thanksgiving Day once a month?
What if we defined Thanksgiving Day to mean spending a whole day with the people you really want to be with just living: eating, talking, playing, resting, and being militantly free from worries (and ambition) of any kind.
One day per month. Is there anyone so busy that they can’t arrange at least one day per month for Thanksgiving? I wrote arrange not find the time for I have been trying to find the time forever and it never works. In contrast, arranging life to make the time for things has a nearly 100% success rate.
I agree that this sounds like building your day into a routine and some people may think that is boring. Well it really isn’t. What it is….is empowering yourself.
My ancestors in France used to have Thanksgiving every night at supper. With modern times that is almost not possible anymore, but the tradition holds strong to have Thanksgiving once a week. They consistently carve out one day each week where the busyness of life is excluded from he agenda and they sit back to enjoy a good meal and revel in the pleasure of spending time with people they love the most. That’s what weekends or at least Sundays used to be for. Remember?
As the first cooking smells are coming out of my kitchen, I can feel my heritage blooming and re-acquaint myself with the importance of good home cooked meals.
Thanksgiving once a day was the norm when I grew up. My affinity to this greatest of American Holidays is not a secret, as it reminds me of growing up in a family home, where the kitchen was the largest room in the house and the kitchen table could easily handle up to 12 people. We were 7 -mom and dad and 5 sons- and with family friends almost sitting in nightly, the food was splendid and the conversations lively. Instruments came out, some played cards or Pétanque and these evenings made me realize that Gratitude is an Attitude. A good meal, good company, peace and quiet, and attention not on the things that aren’t working, that need to be improved, that are still undone, but dedicated to enjoying and appreciating the many things good in our lives.
I’m going to take my birds to Lawrence now who’s frying turkeys in his driveway for friends and family and tell him and Judie that I’m proud and happy to be their partner in this venture called SearchAmelia.
Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my friends past, present and future. I truly appreciate you.