Giving Thanks.

I give thanks for being alive. Because every day, good or bad, is a chance to learn, to evolve, to reinvent myself.

It is no secret that I am not American. I lived in the country for a few years, and I didn’t have much true exposure to the culture, not in person anyway. While it was my hope, once upon a time, to return and be one of them, my dreams have since shifted in a different direction. But I digress.

I give thanks for being healthy of body and mind. Because as long as there is health, there will be fight for everything else.

My first (and perhaps only) true Thanksgiving was shortly after I arrived to the country, and I was the guest of a guest. I was feeling awkward as all hell and out of my element, but folks there were extremely welcoming and the food was delicious and plentiful, stuffing, banana pudding and other such amenities. I remember there was an hour long drive over there and back, too. Quite the novel experience.

I give thanks for my spirit of fire and my willpower of steel. Because I am driven ever forward in pursuit of my dreams, and every time I bite the dust, I rise again.

The following years were not as nice, but there was still food to share, even if it was honey ham instead of turkey. Oh there was turkey once, or twice, but it was smoked instead of baked which made for a blackened, charred, extremely dry meal. Also, the cook for the day liked, for some reason, to keep some peelings in the mashed potatoes. I have never been able to figure out why, but if it is a gourmet thing, I’m content being of the more vulgar eaters.

I give thanks for the good times. Because they lighten my path and leave me wanting more.

It went downhill from there. There was still ham and mashed potatoes, and sometimes stuffing, but the big gatherings never happened again. Still, the spirit would endure and I was happy to partake in the tradition. Never watched football games as it is customary though. I’m afraid my knowledge of the sport is extremely limited. Latino that I am, my earlier years revolved around soccer.

I give thanks for the hardships. Because thanks to them I am stronger, and pain is the best teacher.

The months prior to my leaving the country were especially harrowing, and Turkey Day was but weeks away when I crossed the border to never cross it again (to this day at least). The holiday faded from my memory, or almost, although I remained well acquainted with this and other traditions. I am not very keen on celebrating Halloween, I never was, not as a child and not now. But Thanksgiving? I believe it is a noble holiday, and one I am happy to share in every little way possible.

I give thanks for my past. Because its good times and its lessons helped shape me how I am now.

Aren’t you Mexican?, some of you might say. Yes, I am, and proud to be. I have spoken before of my affinity with the Guadalupana, Dia de Muertos and other truly Mexican traditions. But let’s face it, in today’s world it is all about sharing. You take some of my Mariachi and salsa and tacos, I’ll take some pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce, and, why not?, even some Canadian bacon (hello, Canucks!). Sharing is caring, and giving thanks should not be regarded as a tradition for this or that country. Every single one of us, no matter the country, race, age or sexual preference, has something to be thankful for. Let us, then, share in the gratitude.

I give thanks for my present. Because the best moment is now.

Imagine, then, my dismay (horror, even), when I learned that some major stores were pushing their bargain madness from the traditional Black Friday to Thanksgiving itself. Have they no shame?! Sorry, rhetorical question, we all know the answer to this one. Look, I am as open minded as can be, probably more than the average male fellow of Latin ethnicity and roots. I support LGBT, cross-gender marriage, heck I wasn’t bothered in the least when I learned that a man born a female was now pregnant (I read about that today!). But this?! This is stepping on family values, it is stepping on tradition, it is giving in to our most basic instincts of greed. This cannot stand. Uncle George (Takei) said it best: “When stores like Wal-Mart move their Black Friday sales to Thanksgiving Day, they truly have forgotten the purpose of the holiday–and cynically ask their employees to leave their loved ones, too”.

I give thanks for my future. Because it holds my hopes, my illusions, my dreams, my goals.

“Stay with your families on Thursday, friends”, said he. “Cook and eat together. Watch a football game or a family movie. Call your relatives. Don’t waste your precious day off standing in lines or fighting crowds in malls”. And I wholeheartedly agree with him. To keep the average employee away from his or her mother while motherless CEOs stay at home stuffing, not a turkey (they have people to do that for them), but their already overinflated pockets? Disgusting.

I give thanks for my family. Because no matter where I go, I will always have where to fall back.

Ah, but the Human race is not without hope yet. On CNN Money of all places (what I was doing there in the first place is a long story) I found a note about enraged shoppers fighting corporate greed back. How cool is that? Now now, I know what some of you may be thinking, ‘pfff, corporate greed will always win’. I say to you, corporate greed will always win as long as that kind of thinking prevails. Win or lose, useful or pointless, I join the ranks of these people who stand for family and for the things that really matter, if only symbolically (at least for now)

I give thanks for the internet. Because it has given me some of the most precious moments and hard lessons of my life, and it is far from over.

So, even though I am not American nor Canadian, and (at least for now) it doesn’t matter if I shop on Thanksgiving day or not, this is what I vow:

I will not shop on Thanksgiving, because I believe in family.
The shoppers strike back!

And I give thanks for the precious few that are true and tested, those that I can truly lean on, those closest to my heart. Blessings and my deepest thanks to you, for existing, for being there, for never faltering even when your own spirit feels weighed down. Thank you for holding me, thank you for you. Here’s to the good times and may they never end.

See you next week.

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