Dear Pope Francis,
Today is Canadian Thanksgiving (which is the necessary way to write it since American Thanksgiving is at the end of November). Growing up, this was never a ‘big’ holiday in my family. Of course we celebrated it, but it was usually a smaller affair, likely with just the immediate family (whereas at Christmas and Easter, our ‘big’ holidays, the whole extended family would be together). We’d spend some time together and have a nice supper, but it didn’t always feel radically different from every other family dinner we had.
Now that I’m away from home, I appreciate the simplicity of the holiday. People generously welcome me to their celebrations, and I look forward to the opportunity to be with large groups of people, especially families, because it reminds me of home in general, but not necessarily Thanksgiving at home.
On Saturday night, I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving for myself. I went to mass, stopped on my way home to get something special for supper and dessert. My roommate happened to be cooking when I got home and we took the opportunity to hang out for a while, which we haven’t done in a few weeks. After finishing my ‘feast’, I called my parents, and then spent the rest of the evening working on a writing project. At the end of the night, I went to bed, having had one of the best nights I’ve had for a while, precisely because it was so simple. It was an evening of simple things to give simple thanks for everything I have.
Over the summer, I challenged myself to practice radical gratitude, to be thankful even when things were tough, but my Thanksgiving celebration last night reminds me that Thanksgiving doesn’t always have to be ‘radical’ and elaborate. Gratitude can also come in the small moments, like a burst of creativity or a spending time with only a few other close friends or family members. The gratitude that comes from these small moments is just as important as the moments of radical gratitude or the communal moments of thanksgiving at larger gatherings.
I’ve spent much of the last few months being completely overwhelmed with gratitude, and not having adequate words to express the sentiment. I am grateful for my trip in June and all that it taught me, the men and women who laid down their lives (and continue to do so) for our freedom, my privileged life in Canada, my family and friends scattered across the country, my school community, the fact that I have a roof over my head and I share the space with someone whom I consider a friend, and I’m grateful for all the experiences that have shaped me and my life into what it is today. In many ways, the activities of Saturday night were the best way I could express my gratitude, by simply enjoying what I have, and not spending the time wishing for more.
Off to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with Meredith,