When I was younger, Thanksgiving holiday was strictly commercial business. Me and my cousins would spend all night watching movies and scanning the holiday deals in the newspaper. We’d eventually come up with a plan and then disperse accordingly to line-up at all the various stores; the night still dark with at least a couple of hours to spare before sunrise. Hours later, we’d reunite at home with our loot and countless stories of all the crazy things we saw while snagging our deals.
We did this every year, for many years, before online shopping and aging into adulthood made us realize that there is more to the holiday. This is when we entered into the next phase of our Thanksgiving celebration where shopping was replaced with eating and playing card games. Our parents too realized by this point that Thanksgiving was a good holiday to incorporate in our rotation of annual Indian holidays which as everyone knows are all about being together and eating good food. Granted, there entrance resulted in a lot of spicey Thanksgiving sides and of course no giant turkey because they are all vegetarians. Over the years, Cousins brought boyfriends/girlfriends, fiancés, husbands/wives, and eventually we all multiplied to have lots and lots of kids. Thanksgiving at this point officially became my most favorite holiday.
What is interesting to note is that during all these years of celebrating Thanksgiving, we had never ever made speeches, or gone around the table to announce all the things we were thankful for. Was this a mishap of being an immigrant family who was adopting a new-to-them holiday? May be. But mostly it felt redundant to the mood of the night, and who wants to waste time making declarations of thanks when you could clearly be doing less annoying things.
Thanksgiving was consistent and predictable. Most importantly it filled up my reservoir of purpose in life. On Thanksgiving, I felt whole, complete, and satisfied with exactly how life had turned out. That feeling would carry me through the other 364 days of the year when I thought I wasn’t enough, or doing enough, or changing the world enough.
I remember the moment in 2020 when I realized that our Thanksgiving get-together was going to be cancelled. It was such an alien thought. I didn’t understand it at first or know what to do instead. Obviously, cancelling a party doesn’t cancel the holiday. So Thanksgiving still came around you know, but there was no food, no card games, no people. Just heavy sighs in our own homes where we were all trying to be thankful for something when the world was falling apart.
Officially my least favorite, yet necessary phase of Thanksgiving had arrived. Necessary because being thankful when things are going well is easy. Being thankful when you have lost something important, is hard. Doing hard things make us grow, and make us into better human beings.
2022. This year. Thanksgiving was going to be a much smaller affair because we are still in the clutches of a pandemic. But not so austere as the two years before. We were headed to Charlotte to see the grandparents, and get a few days of TLC in the form of delicious food, lots of sleep, and no worry in the world.
Then Arjun and Asha tested positive for COVID the day we were due to leave (yesterday). A result of an exposure a week before which we thought we had avoided unscathed. Clearly, we cancelled the trip to Charlotte. Then informed all the people the kids had seen during these last few days – so many dreaded texts!!! And now the two of them are quarantine-ing in Asha’s room. They are asymptomatic so that goods. They have each other’s company which is also good.
I feel okay. I would have liked things to work out differently of course. But I am okay. Clearly, I must have done some growing up since 2020.
The TV is on to Carolina vs Portland basketball game. We are eating Chinese food for lunch from the Golden Dragon. The weather is fantastically warm and sunny. And guess what, I am going to indulge in some shopping tomorrow (for old times sake).
I would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Wherever you are, in whatever circumstance that life has dealt you, I hope you have a few things still to be thankful for.