For the first time in four years at this time of year, I sat down and enjoyed turkey dinner. But it wasn’t like any of the other Thanksgiving dinners I’d ever enjoyed before. The ones where I sat around the dinner table with brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents enjoying delectable dishes only to fall on the couch afterward to an insufferable turkey coma.
This time I was without any of my family. I thought a lot about that in the coming days leading up to the Canadian Thanksgiving — thinking about what, if anything, the holiday meant to me. Prior to that, I hadn’t really given it much thought. It was just really another day.
Growing up, you get to have these dinners three times per year. They’re always the same and throughout the years they become more of a chore — something getting in the way of your other plans — than something you actually look forward to participating in.
As you get older though, you start to see what the dinners mean to you. What they mean to everyone else picking up their fork and knife at that dinner table. At least that’s the case for me anyways.
In many ways, it’s this unrelenting element of change in our lives that alters the meaning of routine holidays, like thanksgiving. For some, it’s the loss of someone at that dinner table that gives you a greater appreciation for those still there picking up their forks. Less drastically, for me, it was moving across the country away from my relatives and not having the opportunity to take part in the dinners at all.
This isn’t to say that I regret my move. Not at all actually — I’d do it again everyday of the week and twice again on Sunday — but it does change you. It does change the way you think about yourself, your family, your friends and, well really, anyone who means something to you.
I sit here typing these words and I wonder what smart ass remark my uncle is shooting across the table at my father — I smile. I ponder at the different stories my cousins are sharing with each other as if they hadn’t talked in years — I laugh. I try to appreciate the strength, perseverance and reverence of my grandfather to fight through his old years to make it back to that dinner table — I applaud.
But all this I do from over 3,000 km away, and it’s days like today that this weight bears heaviest on my mind. I think about this only now because it’s the first time I’m starting a tradition of my own enjoying turkey dinner with new faces, new smiles and new people. It’s this rebirth of thanksgiving in my life that’s caused me to be so appreciative of the little moments that I never acknowledged in my past — ones that I know many of my family and friends don’t openly soak in themselves.
If there’s one thing my move has taught me over the last five plus months (can’t believe it’s been that long) it’s that you have to appreciate the little things you already have that won’t always be there in your life. The things, rituals, routines, that you take for granted or sometimes even groan at that you’d miss if they weren’t a part of your life. I’m happy with my newfound appreciation for that in my life.
So this thanksgiving, grab a drink, eat way more than your body can physically handle and enjoy the feeling of being completely full — both of food and the people around you. Appreciate the little things because, someday, they won’t be there.