Amid the million products swarming our eyes for Christmas, a much celebrated holiday based around gratitude often flies under the radar.
This Thursday is Thanksgiving; it being the final Thursday of November; a month associated with leaves, the arrival of cold weather and shopping frenzies.
Coincidentally this Thursday sees three of my family arrive from America, so I have no choice but to mark the occasion. 501 years old this year, the ‘First Thanksgiving’ was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days and was attended by 90 Wampanoag Native American people and 53 Pilgrims.
I’ve a feeling the feast in the Looby household here may last as long – between my love of food and my jetlagged siblings and Mam’s need to fuel up after a long journey.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel the huge energy sapping busyness of this time of year. It seems we’re running to catch up with ourselves between trying to get things sorted ahead of Christmas and paying bills, getting the house in order, being busy at work etc.
It’s all pressure and it adds up.
I attended an event with the children and some friends recently; a mass for people who died at Wexford General Hospital, and was overwhelmed by the crowd. Each one their own story of grief and sorrow. It hit home in a way nothing else has for a long time and made me understand, in a far clearer way, how death affects us all and how grateful we should be for being able to share this life and all its opportunities.
Don’t worry I’m not going to get too schmaltzy and sentimental, but there is a lot to be said for being thankful; thankful that we can enjoy time together on special days when the priorities lie where they should; on the people we love.
At my father's 80th birthday dinner Saturday night, surrounded by his siblings, I got to see what family means to people, especially when distance is involved.
The old man has had some health setbacks and is getting great care at a nursing home, so seeing him laugh about old times and remember moments and faces from the past through the fog of dementia, was a wonderful thing to behold.
Thursday will be a day of work, meetings and paying bills (most likely), but I’ll be making time to ensure a lovely feast is cooked and some long chats into the night (providing they can stay awake) are had. No turkey mind, it’s way too early in the year for that craic, but there will be lamb and lots else to be thankful for.
Apart from celebrating family and health, I’ll also be toasting some positive developments in the world. Donald Trump is looking like a rubber turkey after the Republicans poor showing in the House and Senate elections. Jair Bolsonaro is out of power in Brazil and with him the machine that was devastating ‘the world’s lungs’, the Amazon Forest. The bravery of Ukrainian fighters and people living under constant attack from their murderous neighbour, Russia. Alexi Navalny, a man who sacrificed everything to fight corruption and the abuse of power in a Russia unrecognisable from his dreams for it, and millions more.
I’ll be grateful for a hell of a lot and amid the shopping frenzy and madness of the weeks to come, be thankful for the chance to pig out, unwind, catch up, share gifts and treat the people who mean most to me in my life.