“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
~ A.A. Milne.
I had space in my day yesterday to discover the beauty of Dania Beach, and be grateful. I could hear reggae music playing, not only in my mind (Beres singing “But I’m giving thanks”) but also from the beachside café (Buju “I could go on and on”) and feel the cool breeze on my skin while I walked along the pier. I was particularly thankful that in all the years I have lived in the USA I have never actually cooked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
There are many reasons for this. My standard response was always “It’s not my tradition”, which was a polite way of saying that I could not come to terms with the origins of the story. Still not sure what Native Americans gained in the deal. Another reason had to do with my career choice. Nurses (what we used to call ‘bedside nurses’) have to commit to work at least half of the holidays each year, and if you want to be sure you are off at Christmas (which was for me as a mother of young children the priority) then it’s an easy choice. There were no financial incentives in the early years, if you worked a holiday you got another day off ‘in lieu’. As things improved for nurses they had to give us ‘time and a half’ for worked holidays, then double time. And so as the main bread winner of the family it was an easy choice. Work Thanksgiving, and get extra money in the pay check just in time for Christmas shopping.
But thankfully, my kids had cousins down in South West Miami who cooked each Thanksgiving like they were cooking for the whole winter! And while I worked, my kids were fed and got their fill of family traditions. Of course with the added Jamaican flavors of curried goat, rice and peas and much more alongside the turkey and ham! Many many thanks to the clan (you know who you are!) who to this day still cook up a feast and welcome all comers to their doors. They even provide ‘to go’ containers!
This morning I woke up thinking about having a song in your heart every day regardless of your circumstances. We can change our perception of the things that happen to us merely by giving them a different label. We are often reminded to choose our attitude, and by looking at the flipside we can see things in a different light. By turning towards the sun we make the shadows fall behind us.
Today I celebrate the birth of my third child (second son), born 31 years ago. He lingered and dallied in the womb, not wanting to leave even though I climbed on the washing machine to clean the windows behind in that last ‘nesting’ urge associated with late pregnancy. On the day I finally went into labor I was shopping and cleaning and timing contractions, then rushing to the airport to pick up my mother in rush hour traffic. There was plenty of drama associated with that birth.
And the drama continued in his life. He has celebrated many birthdays in a place not of his choosing, but as a result of choices he made. He has had to learn the hard way that there are consequences to actions and a price to be made for being “too smart for my own good”. I share this story with too many mothers, but there are others who have had to deal with far worse fates and tragedies. And so I am grateful that I know where he is, and that I can visit him and talk to him and learn from him as he learns from life.
This week I heard an interview with the mother of a son held hostage in Syria. He was one of the fortunate ones, he came home. And he told his mother that each evening he would hold a telepathic conversation with her, and he heard her voice clearly in his head, speaking, comforting, advising him. She has been able to support other mothers in the same situation by letting them know that they are with their sons despite the distance and the total lack of communication and information.
This week we have once more been given much to think about, as the injustice in our society plays out in endless loops on cable TV. Through the smoke and the frustration we need to come together to find ways to work towards a more hopeful future, one where all young men can feel free to express themselves and find their voice, but who have opportunities to succeed and live their dreams. A society where mothers don’t have to wonder how to raise their sons to keep them safe.
This morning I hope that you are able to recognize the many blessings in your life. Sometimes we need a day to remind us to be grateful. With a song in our heart we can see through the tragedies and frustrations to know that despite everything there is much to be thankful for.
I give thanks for my friends and family, for all of those people who touch my lives every day. It is through these shared connections that we recognize our common humanity. May you have a fabulous Friday, and a wonderful weekend.