Immigration and decidedly one-sided historical manipulation aside, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. To me, it was about grandma’s lumpy potatoes and my cousins swinging from the tire swing in the gigantic oak tree in the back. It was a time for my family to gather together in one place, under one roof, if just for the day. It was about taking time for gratitude in our oh-so busy lives.
Well, the Pilgrims never made it to Mexico having pretty much died out the first year in the New World. And since they didn’t, Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here. My first Thanksgiving here was rough. I cried. The second wasn’t much better. I missed having that day set aside for family. And although Mexico has several family orientated holidays (Children’s Day, Mother’s Day, Navidad) it just hasn’t been the same.
This will be my 9th Thanksgiving here in Mexico. I’ve tried to recreate the holiday in my new country on several occasions. Overall they have been dismal failures. Frozen turkey is over $500 pesos and completely out of our budget. We tried raising our own one year (See Mr. and Mrs. Turkey) but that didn’t work out very well either. Roast chicken and mashed potatoes were the best I could provide–with the ever-present risk of the gas running out mid-chicken. Pumpkin pie filling was hard to come by. Growing our own pumpkins would have worked out ok, but the pumpkins that grow here aren’t those orange ones I was used to. Oh, the list goes on and on.
This year I’m not even going to try to recreate Thanksgiving. I have to work anyway. But the part of the holiday that I can maintain is taking the time to express my gratitude to whoever or whatever may be for my life in Mexico.
I am thankful that for 6 years, my husband was able to be the primary caregiver for our son. I often worked during the day and my son went to school in the afternoon, so he and dad took care of the house and animals. (See Why we chose to send our son to elementary school) We all enjoyed our days. Unfortunately, secondary school has put a wrench into our easy schedule, but I am grateful for the time we had and hope that we can finagle the schedule to our liking again in the near future.
I am thankful for the numerous business ventures we have had that failed. I know that sounds crazy, but our family quest for gainful employment has encompassed nearly 9 years so far. We finally have something (or rather some things) that more or less works, but in the event of yet another failure, well, no worries. We’ll find something else.
I am thankful for the opportunity to build our home. (See Building a dream–Constructing a Life) It has been frustrating at times mostly because the progress is SOOOO slow, but like Thoreau wrote, I feel that “There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that there is in a bird’s building its own nest.“
I am thankful for the hardship of living in Mexico. Things that I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at in my own community require mental and physical exertion here, more than I ever dreamed of. It’s not just the blatantly difficult things in my life, like doing laundry in the arroyo (See After Ecstasy, the Laundry), or eeking out an existence by sharecropping. It’s the superficially simple things that really get me, like going to a doctor for a check-up (See Seguro Popular–a model of inefficiency), buying tortillas, ordering meat at the carniceria, taking the bus…the list goes on and on. These hardships have honed and shaped me into the Super Woman I am now. I have confidence that I never knew I possessed as I sashay about town on my moto now. I am Woman–hear me roar! Si se puede! That is, on my good days. (See A Night At the Movies) Other days I can just manage to pull on my big girl panties and get’r done.
I am thankful for the AHA! moments Mexico has given me. The sound of the wings of a thousand birds flying in formation, the slow waddle of the dung beetle with its ball of poo, the jeweled hummingbird feeding from the wild klip dagga flower, the clouds of butterflies…it’s like being on the nature channel. I would never have had these experiences in any other place.
I am thankful for the lessons I have learned along the way and those that I have yet to learn. I have learned that I can not impose my will on others (See You can Lead a Horse to Water…). I have learned that all things must die (See When someone dies) but that remembrance allows for a life beyond death (See El Dia de Los Muertos). I’ve learned that it’s ok to fail. (See Failing at Your Own Business) but it’s never ok to give up. I’ve learned about my own emotions from our animals (See Running the Emotional Gamut) and rather unpleasant truths about people (See Hate Thy Neighbor). Oh, I can’t even imagine what more life has in store for me!
And lastly, I am thankful for having the opportunity to share our adventures and disasters with you, Reader, so that I will not be one of those who “lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them” when all is said and done.
7 responses to “Learning Gratitude”
Lovely post. I am visiting the States this holiday and seeing the contrast between a life of stress, excess and consumption and the simple life I live in Mexico. I’ll take the later.
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Camille- what a lovely essay about being thankful. I love reading your postings. We are well in North Carolina- a year older, etc. Lou has more doctors visits that tee time. Ann
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Thanks! It’s a difficult road sometimes, but I hope we always try to make the best of it.
I always enjoy reading your thoughtful blog over here in Los Cabos. Although we don’t have the same experiences, I can identify as an American married to a Mexican. Years ago, we did have calabaza pie for Thanksgiving because I couldn’t get canned pumpkin, and it tasted almost the same. It’s all in the spices!
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I have actually found a supermarket here that carries canned pumpkin, so very possibly for Christmas, I’ll give it a whirl.
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