I didn’t grow up with Thanksgiving – It’s a holiday I adopted, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, when I moved to the United States almost a decade ago.
The first few years, I spent the holiday at college friends’ houses. The long weekend was too short to book a flight to the Caribbean, but too long to stay on campus, alone, staring at tumbleweeds from my dorm window. For the past six years, though, I’ve spent the holiday with my husband’s family, and truly came to appreciate the meaning of this sweet holiday that is still quite new to me.
Last year, at this time, our son was four months old. The day went by in a blur because I was so preoccupied with baby duties: nursing him in my husband’s cousin’s bedroom every three hours and keeping a watchful eye as he was passed from the arms of one cooing aunt to the next.
The conversation at our end of the table revolved around motherhood: a step by step account of my ten-hour birth, our lack of sleep, his reached milestones. Our pride and joy. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. Between bites of sweet potato, I stole glances at the baby monitor just to make sure the loud, echoing laughs at the table didn’t wake him up.
We didn’t know it yet, but this was the first of many, very different Thanksgivings for us (even though our infant was milk drunk in his pack and play, too little to partake in the gathering).
And this year, with our now one-and-a-half-year-old, it somehow feels extra special.
Every year, we use the opportunity of Thanksgiving to really let the reality of our lives hit us: how lucky we are to have what we have, to live comfortable lives, and be loved by friends and family. We know we should be thankful, and we usually are. We toast to the wonderful people sharing our table and the ones far away, hoping for another year of health and prosperity. We feel a sense of unity, of closeness, with those across and beside us.
My son is a toddler now and I still catch myself staring at him sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), fascinated by the life inside of him. He surprises us each day with new facets of his personality, new milestones he’s reaching on his own, and is praised by our pediatrician for his impeccable checkups.
I try to not let a single day go by without remembering that he, like all healthy babies, is a miracle. How blessed we are that our child was born healthy, and that he continues to blossom each day.
And this year, as I feed my son his first bite of pumpkin pie, I will cherish that moment. I will be thankful for his health, his well-being, and strength, because so many babies are born without it. So many parents spend long, sleepless nights beside hospital beds, with nothing to hold onto but prayer and hope. I will soak in that moment and be thankful a hundred times for that little miracle we created, the one sitting in my lap, reaching for more pie.