Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

As a kid, I never really thought about Thanksgiving. It was nice. There were extra mashed potatoes and stuffing to be had. We ate. We thanked. We waited for Santa. The End.

Now, though, Thanksgiving has steadily moved up to my favorite holiday. We don't run around in a crazy Mimosa fueled sprint to see both sides of both of our families. We don't have the pressure of keeping everybody happy, or the need to organize endless lists of gifts for everybody. Instead, we get to spend quality time with the people we love while sleeping late and wearing stretchy pants. We catch up with our college-aged siblings and get coddled by our parents. We stop and think about what we've been through since last year and where we are going.

My students who are new to the U.S. were very perplexed by Thanksgiving, so we did a lesson. Pilgrims, Native Americans, travels to a new land, reasons to be thankful for new experiences. We watched Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown, and the kiddos were perplexed by Lucy's meanness and Snoopy's lack of doglike qualities. Through it all, I was thankful for the new opportunity, and thankful for my professional journeys in the last year. When one of my kids said he was thankful for me, I realized that my own pilgrimage to a new school is starting to look like the best decision I never wanted.

As we started the Thanksgiving lesson, one of my students looked at me thoughtfully. "But, Mrs. Gas," she said, "why do Americans need one day to be thankful? Don't they just feel it always?" A million dollar question that I don't really remember having a good answer for. Why, indeed? Shouldn't we always be this vocal about our gratitude? Why don't we shout to the rooftops our love for our families, our gratitude for our physical situations and our thankfulness for life's changes? This Thanksgiving, I'm most thankful for the reminder to carry that attitude through more of my daily life.

I am truly blessed. Thank you, thank you, thank you to life and love and new friends and old friends, to family and students and kittens for reminding me of it.

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