Thankful for Thanksgiving

second year carolina benoit

 photo by stokes dunavan

photo by stokes dunavan

That one holiday in November. You know the one, that day most people forget about, because apparently Christmas starts the day after Halloween. That forgotten treasure is known as Thanksgiving, and if it’s not your favorite holiday, try reevaluating your life.

First and foremost, I must admit that the way my family celebrates Thanksgiving is not the way most people do. My entire Hispanic family comes to my house in Atlanta, and for about four days straight, both the kitchen and the fireplace are in use 24/7 (we’re from Puerto Rico. Any temperature below 65º means polar bears will walk into the house at any moment). There’s no such thing as “inside voices” or “silence” during this time; when close to 15 Hispanics all file into a few rooms, the chaotic noise is perpetual. People are talking, listening to salsa music, shriek-laughing (while sporadically clapping in case others weren’t aware how funny that joke was), playing dominoes, and begging for more firewood, because winter on La Isla del Encanto is 80º.

Our Thanksgiving dinners also deviate from the norm. Our turkey is juicy and citrusy, our mashed potatoes are really fried yuca and tostones, and our “greens” are actually rice and beans. We don’t eat stuffing or gravy (I’ve never had them) - we eat croquetas and empanadas. We do have the traditional pumpkin pie for dessert thanks to my Californian father, but that’s about as close to the status quo as we get.

So yes, my Thanksgiving is slightly different from a typical, traditional, one-day Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t excuse anyone from giving it the attention and love it deserves. On the surface, it’s about food. How can anyone not support that with their entire being? But deeper than that, it’s also about gratitude. Gratitude for the blessings from the past year, the promises of the future, our families, our friends, our lives. Other than the obligatory Instagram posts, how much time do we actually spend being appreciative of ourselves, our surroundings, and the world we live in?

Too often do we forget to dig deep, and live in the moment. Too often do we forget to take the time to be truly thankful for everything good in our lives. By now, I assume most people are diving headfirst into the Christmas spirit. Maybe it’s too late this year to actively celebrate Thanksgiving with the sort of intention it deserves, and you’ll just have to revisit this article next year. But being grateful is one thing that we should do every day, not just on the fourth Thursday of every November. Make today your Thanksgiving 2.0; eat too much food, tell someone you love and appreciate them, and enjoy life actively.