24 November 2015

A Different Kind of Thankful

Thanksgiving is a holiday that I've never really cared for. The idea of stuffing ourselves silly till we literally fall asleep, then waking up to go rip each other apart on Black Friday just seems ridiculously silly. I am a Black Friday shopper, but only because I am poor and really need the sales on stuff like warm kid's pajamas. For the past several years, I've tried my hardest to work on Thanksgiving and have Christmas day off. I've tried to avoid my extended family, and ignore the fact that my family was split apart into two countries.

Part of Thanksgiving Dinner 2014; it was the only picture I
had taken that day. 
Last year, Hector and I had Thanksgiving with two of his friends, also deported, who hadn't had a Thanksgiving in years. I made the entire dinner, and it fed not only my kids, my husband, and his two friends, but probably six other people who may or may not have had enough to eat that whole week. That Thanksgiving changed me. It changed my perspective on the holiday, and it changed me inside.

I began to be humbled that day. I had been fighting Mexico. I had been fighting to hang onto the person that I became when I was alone in the US, making "money", and doing everything "on my own". I put those in quotation marks, because I wasn't really doing anything except being a selfish, spoiled brat. I was unhappy in Mexico, unhappy in my life, unhappy with Hector, but really, I was unhappy with myself. I had no phone, I had very little money, and our little apartment felt more like a jail cell. But, after that Thanksgiving,  I began to see differently. After 4 months in Mexico, I began to see people around me, who were a lot less fortunate. I had looked at them before, but I had never really seen them. My kids may not have had their own bedrooms, but we were not sleeping in the park. I may not have been able to make a turkey for Thanksgiving, but we had food to eat every night, and some of those people I shared the ham with might not have. I didn't have a stove to cook on, but I had friends who did and were willing to open their home to me, regardless of how selfish and insufferable I may have been before that day.

This year, I will gather with part of my family, and stuff my face. Not because I am a glutton, but because I am thankful to have enough food this year. There were times in Mexico where we really didn't have enough to be really full. I have put my kids to bed hungry. This year, on this day, I will not have to do that. I hope and pray I never have to do that again. A lot of people talk about being "grateful" for having a roof over their heads or having enough to eat, but most of them don't know what that really means. I didn't before, but I do now. My entire perspective on what "being thankful for my blessings" has changed. Not because I know what my blessings are, but because I know what it means to truly be thankful. Being thankful isn't talking about it without trying to experience the other side.

This year, I am thankful that I have enough to eat. I am thankful for my mom's always open doors that allow me to go back and forth between Oregon and Mexico without ever feeling like a burden. I am thankful that my children have food and a roof over their heads, even though we're so far apart. I'm thankful for my fertility, that God has given us another healthy child. I am thankful that I am Catholic, because without God and His Church I would never have made it through that first year in Mexico- I probably would have killed myself. I am thankful that I see people now. I'm thankful for my blankets, because I am not cold at night. I'm thankful for the amazing nurses and CNAs that I rub shoulders with on a regular basis. I'm thankful that I still have my parents with me to help me navigate adulthood, because at 27, I still don't really have the hang of it. I'm thankful for my mother-in-law who loves on my children and keeps them Mexican and who gave me my husband; without her, I wouldn't have my kids.

And mostly, I am thankful for Mexico, the beautifully diverse country that opened it's doors to me and my family when I felt like the US turned it's back on us. I now accept that Hector and I will not be returning to the US as a complete family unit, but Mexico has created a brand-new type of freedom that we could never have had in the US.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone. Truly be thankful for every situation, good or bad that you experience.

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