Thankful for….


“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I became aware of this festival of giving thanks after I came to the United Sates of America. In India, we didn’t say thanks, our looks and smiles said it all. Even today, when I thank my parents for a kind act, they get embarrassed and somewhat offended, ‘You don’t thank your own, thanking is too formal!’ I respect that and say how much I love the particular dress/book/babysitting, I don’t utter the word thanks. I show my gratitude instead, with a beaming smile or an extra hug. I have, however, grown to love saying thanks. That, I think, is the beauty of belonging to two countries. I can constantly pick and choose all that I like from both the cultures and discard the ones that don’t make much sense to me.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday simply because it transcends the boundaries of structured religions and all Americans and residents of America come together this day to show their gratitude and break bread with friends and family. There is,indeed, something uniquely beautiful in offering thanks. Is there any other holiday that is just dedicated to giving thanks? Being grateful for all the bounty that we have received? There are no gifts to be bought, nothing to wrap and put under the tree, no tree to trim and decorate.

I started a project of writing down one fact each day for this entire month, for which I am thankful. Good friends, understandably, groaned at my sudden spurt of gratefulness, and I predictably, ignored their good-natured ribbing and marched right ahead with my sparkling positivism. I seriously believe it is important to count our blessings. Not only does that keep those dark, gloomy thoughts at bay which loom large on the horizon when the sun doesn’t shine upon me, but also makes me much more sensitive and compassionate towards others who don’t have much – both in materialistic and non materialistic sense.

But being the impatient person that I am, how could I contain myself to mere one thought a day? How about all those other ones that are constantly bubbling within me as I try to arrange them in sequence and spread them evenly throughout this month of Thanksgiving? I abandoned the project and decided to put my thoughts in a blog post instead. Most days, I try to be grateful for the life I lead, some days………well, I am only human.

The month started with an occasion which was something to be greatly thankful for, my mother’s birthday. How can I even begin to thank two individuals, my mother and father, who gave it their all to love, cherish and nurture their only child, to the best of their ability.

Oh, my list of blessings is endless. It is impossible to enumerate them all, so I will just name a few.

I am thankful for the community where I live that not merely tolerates diversity but accepts it, respects it, promotes it and celebrates it.

My little, cozy house with heat on this cold, cold day, which seems to shrink every year as the children grow up and spread out, and yet, this lack of space brings us closer. Not much space to hide in our remote corners.

I love to be the cynosure of two big brown eyes, and the silent companionship he provides.

The job that I got after fourteen years of staying at home. The children were ready and so was I.

The two little humans that are responsible for my gray hair as well as the deepening laugh lines on my face. Oh alright, go ahead, call them wrinkles, if you must!

The wonderful educators and coaches that have touched the lives of my children, instilling in them the enthusiasm to learn and play. So very grateful to those special people.

My mother-in-law, who treated me as one of her own, since the day I landed at her doorstep with her son, apprehensive and nervous. I willingly left my country and culture to follow my heart. But really, I never truly left. I simply broadened my horizon.

My brothers and sisters in law, who became the siblings that I never had and showered me with love.

So, so thankful for the feeling that I am surrounded by love and good will from friends here and all over the world. Grateful for the friends in my life who held my hand through difficult times and didn’t let go. You know who you are.

And the moments, those little moments when I live a thousand lives.

The moment when my 13-year-old daughter puts her arms around my neck and says, “I am so happy I can talk to you about anything and the relationship we share. Many of my friends don’t feel like they can talk to their mothers!”

The moments when I get a glimpse of her beautiful heart full of compassion through the facade of teenage nonchalance.

When a warm, cuddly, tousled haired, freshly woken up seven-year old boy scrambles up on my lap to be held and snuggled as he rubs the sleepies off his eyes, before he gets ready for school.

The moment when he sheds tears at the prospect of baby birds dying and shows immense faith in my ability to save them and make his world right. It is an overwhelmingly beautiful moment and scary at the same time.

The sight of the dog, the boy and the girl gamboling on green grass.

When Ryan reminds Sahana as she pins him down in a wrestling match, that he is not her punching bag, but that she should get one for Christmas instead, or yells out his new-found wisdom from school, “Sahana, be a buddy, not a bully!” between giggles.

The moments when one of the computer generated noises (Sahana calls them songs) comes on and I am pulled to dance along with them in our tiny living room.

I give a silent thanks every time Sean’s plane does a successful landing in whatever part of the world he goes to.

The remaining tenacious green leaves hanging on to the trees for dear life as the fall wind blows through them, trying to shake them off.

The slices of the dazzling blue sky through the filigree of bright orange, red and yellow leaves of the fall.

The moment when I look outside my kitchen window and get rewarded with the most spectacular sunset, right in my backyard.

For living in an area where I get to see the amazing change of seasons which reminds me of the cycle of life – birth, life, death and resurrection.

And for the man in my life, who doesn’t miss a beat, looks me in the eye and answers my question, “what are you thankful for?” with

“You! I am thankful for you!”

If any of you cynics out there tell me he said that to shut me up once and for all, I am not listening. Tralalalalalala! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

We walked a walk and talked the talk – a bit early maybe.


Sage (my dog), Ryan (my son) and I went for a walk today and did some serious exchanging of ideas. Sage didn’t share much. He was somewhat preoccupied with the various dog pee smells in each and every tree trunk or light post that we encountered. Ryan and I did most of the talking. Ryan may well be seven years old, he is very wise for his age.

The conversation started with how summer was going;  is Ryan excited about second grade; is mom excited about her new job and such like. Then we moved on to the question of how the first tree was created and whether the trees that we see around us are the descendants of that first tree. Then next topic we discussed was how Sage’s shadow resembled one particular type of wolf, and my young scientist gravely declared that Sage has descended from that particular wolf who has left his shadow with Sage as an inheritance.

We got into serious grounds next – drinking alcohol. Sean and I don’t drink alcohol. I tried it as a youngster, never liked the taste, never felt the need for it in my life. Sean made a conscious choice to stay away from alcohol because he too didn’t feel the need to introduce that poison in his body. In fact, I heard this story on my wedding day from his friends:

“Your husband is a piece of work. He went to a bar in Costa Rica with friends and ordered a glass of milk!!!”

Ryan and Sahana have decided not to drink alcohol as well when they are adults.

On our walk, Ryan asked me if making the choice (of not drinking) was difficult and more importantly is it going to be hard for him when he grows up. Teaching moments, or rather talking moments like these don’t come up often in our hectic schedule. So I put it to good use.

For me, the choice was relatively easy. In the mid eighties India when I was a teenager, drinking was still considered a taboo among the middle class, especially for girls. Most of my girl friends abstained from drinking and the boy friends didn’t expect us to drink anyway, so there was not much peer pressure, or the need to conform. Sean had more of a difficult time growing up in America where drinking alcohol had more acceptance as a social norm. But after the initial ‘Come on man, just one drink’ people respected his choice and left him alone. They also appreciated his voluntary service as their designated driver after parties.

Ryan and Sahana, I believe will have more of a difficult time standing their ground, if they choose to stay away from alcohol, than we had. I say this because in first grade play ground  discussions, little boys and girls have already questioned Ryan about his choice, “You are so funny! Why won’t you ever drink? I have sipped from my parents’ drink, I like it!” I told him he is going to hear more of it as he becomes a teenager. Teenage drinking is a huge problem world wide. And really, what is the harm in one drink? One glass of red wine is even beneficial for health, I often hear. The harm is, one drink often becomes two and then becomes three. His strength of character will be sorely tested when and if he refuses drinks in people will back off and respect his choice if he stands his ground.

I am a firm believer in ‘live and let live’. I have made my choice in my life. I respect other ADULTS’ choice of enjoying their alcoholic beverage as long as they don’t harm others under its influence and don’t get behind the wheels after downing a few. We have spent way too many moments of silence in different sporting activities, in memories of teenagers who lost their lives to drunk driving. I am not going to go into statistics, it is out there right in front of our eyes.

Life is about making choices. My children will make a choice on this when they are at a legal drinking age (I hope). My job, as a parent, is to make sure they are aware of all the ill effects that alcohol has on human body and let them make an informed decision. All I can hope is my children stay away from it.  And if they don’t, then I hope they make good judgments of how much and when to stop. Most importantly, I hope they designate a driver!