November has always been one of my favorite months of the year. November means changing leaves, big warm sweaters, boots to wear, and apple cider donuts. It means Thanksgiving, pumpkin pies, the month after MY birthday, the month before Christmas and crock pot stews. It means the smell of Autumn, sleeping with the window cracked and a time to be GRATEFUL.
While I always try to practice living a life filled with gratitude, something about November is even more special. Of course, Thanksgiving helps kick start a lot of those feelings of gratitude even here in Manila, where Thanksgiving is celebrated by only a handful of people-all being American or being married to an American.
In preparation for Thanksgiving I make sure we have the turkey and all the fixings. Searching for a Butterball isn’t that hard, and even finding the sweet potatoes from Taiwan has now become easier, so our Thanksgiving spread is very similar to the spread I would prepare while living in New York. This makes my heart and my tummy happy. Thanksgiving in our home wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t ask the kids or even our guests to express something that they are grateful for during our dinner. In the past, I have asked my kids to write poems and read them aloud to our guests. I have also provided our guests with cut strips of paper at each place setting to write down what they are grateful for. Together with our guests, we would read our notes of gratitude aloud and paste them together in the form of a “Gratitude Chain.” That chain would hang in our house, draped across our mantel thru the celebration of Three Kings.
A friend of mine invited me to participate in a Gratitude Challenge this year. Capturing Gratitude is a photo challenge to post one picture (or more) a day sharing something that you are grateful for during the month of November. While, my first few posts are really big things in my life that I’m grateful for, the exercise has reminded me (thru everyone else’s posts as well) that even the small things are just as important as the really big things.
This year will definitely hold all the familiar preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Preparing the Thanksgiving feast with my Mom is something I have looked forward to ever since I was a kid. It’s not just a holiday where I get to spend time in the kitchen preparing meals and dishes that remind me of home and my childhood, it’s also a holiday when I am reminded all that I have to be thankful for.