Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday in the U.S. It brought the warmth of family to the table. Although guests are often invited, in my family, it is a peculiarly tight family tradition. Parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, maybe an uncle or aunt. Not much more than that.
Macy's has a parade in New York, and that is about it as far as big national celebrations go. It is not a sports holiday, not fire crackers, not gifts, not necessarily trekking off to church, although a moment of prayer prior to the meal seems to have special meaning.
The giving of thanks. To God. To family. To the greater world for the blessings we receive. That is what this holiday is for.
It is a warm fireplace on a crisp fall day, a feast of turkey and mashed potatoes or yams, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Warmed with just the right amount of wine or liquor. A walk in the park after the afternoon feast.
It is absent commercial manipulation, absent of gifts, absent of carping and criticism, unless Uncle Wilt is willing to let what is left of his Tea Party hair down for the benefit of Cousin Arnie who had the audacity to enroll at UC Berkeley. Arnie sports an earring and a tattoo on his neck.
The Philippines has that tight family bond regularly. Not occasionally, as is the style of the independent minded US. Philippine fiestas are great feasts, but the family is extended to include every neighbor and friend and anyone who decides to drop by. It is inclusive in ways that Americans can't quite grasp.
Here, the pig is the center of the table, not the turkey.
Both countries have their native heritage, eh? Wild pigs from the mountains, turkeys from the Indian tribes.
I give my love to my family . . . and thanks for the foundation and inspiration they provide . . . thanks to Americans who framed my life and character, and immense gratitude to Filipinos who open new doors for me every day.