Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Days

Yesterday was Thanksgiving where we were but not where we're from. Our Canadian Thanksgiving was in October but yesterday we were in Atlanta and it was American Thanksgiving.

I usually like to spend American Thanksgiving huddled up under a cozy blanket with a steaming cup of coffeejuice (yeah, I know ... sounds like how I like to spend most days!) while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love the floats, Broadway numbers and gigantic balloons. I love listening to Al Roker smile-talk his way through 8 hours of parade commentary. I love watching singers lip sync the same song over and over as they hold on to their lurching float for dear life. I love watching the high school band geeks get their moment to shine. I love the whole thing and look forward to it each year.

That's what I usually do but this year I did the unusual. This year we went to the Georgia Aquarium, hung out at Olympic Park and then went out for dinner at a classic Atlanta restaurant. We mixed with the thankful throngs this year and it was unusual.

It felt odd at first being wished all kinds of happiness on day that was just an ordinary day for us. During our four block walk from our hotel to the aquarium random people on the street wished us Happy Thanksgiving. The homeless woman, wrapped in her sleeping bag on a bench, wished us Happy Thanksgiving. The Arab family who let us go in front of them in line wished us a Happy Thanksgiving. The mom who we gave our table to at the cafe wished us a Happy Thanksgiving as she balanced a tray stacked with juice and cupcakes while managing her three little girls. The older gentleman, with the killer smile, who served us at the restaurant wished us a Happy Thanksgiving.

Like I said, at first these greetings seemed odd to us. It wasn't our Thanksgiving, after all, we were outsiders, foreigners, separate from all this thankfulness. But with each wish of merriment in that sweet southern drawl the distance between us and them decreased. Each time a stranger smiled at us and bade us happiness we felt a little less like strangers and a little more like neighbours.

When we returned to our hotel, the valet driver said to Mischief, "I hope you had a great Thanksgiving little man." Mischief just smiled and nodded but when we were in the elevator he said to me, "Mom, this was great! It was just an ordinary day for us but everyone was so nice to us!"

"This day made my heart happy. Everyone was so friendly. I felt like I was really a part of this city!" Dude added.

They were right. I can't remember the last time I felt so connected to so many random strangers and all it took were smiles and wishes of joy. Both free and painless to give. Both priceless and precious to receive.

What if we made every day Thanksgiving day? What if we started each day being thankful for the blessings in our lives and wishes others we encounter happiness? What if we treated random people on the street more like neighbours? What if opened our hearts to the goodness in others and shared our own goodness freely?

If we lived every day like it was Thanksgiving Day there would be so much more to be thankful for!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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