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November 25, 2012, Sunday

Thank you!

I am delighted by the scent of cinnamon and other spices I smell everywhere during this season. I find irresistible a golden roasted turkey with gravy and silky mashed potatoes next to it.

I love to have zesty, slightly tart cranberry sauce on my plate with stuffing full of juicy vegetables like carrots, celery and onions. I relish pumpkin pie à la mode more than anything else, accompanied by freshly brewed pumpkin spice-flavored coffee. Yes, you got it: I love Thanksgiving!

It’s the most delicious American holiday to me. However, I don’t just love it because it’s scrumptious -- I love it because it makes families get together no matter what religion they belong to. Thanksgiving is for anyone who wants to show their appreciation to God for what they have. Good food and a family together at the table; what else do you need to be thankful?

Americans have been a little nervous that the weakness in the American economy might have a negative effect on the spirit of Thanksgiving. Still, the news has shown that people wanted to spend their time with their families this Thanksgiving as last year. According to Reuters nearly 44 million Americans hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. More Americans chose to spend Thanksgiving with their families and friends over saving money. “Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards. … Therefore, study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate,” declared French intellectual Grimod de la Reynière. Even though people worry about economic uncertainty, they want to be around their families and to create lasting family memories this holiday. It seems as though bad times for the economy empower family ties.

However, stores’ reactions to the slow economy are affecting Thanksgiving traditions the other way around. Since last year, as stores have opened with earlier holiday hours, Black Friday is turning into Black Thursday, and some shoppers and employees aren’t happy about it.

I am not sure how good that decision is. When I first heard it last year, I thought who would like to leave a fine feast and table of loved ones behind and go to work or go shopping? Yet, I definitely did enjoy every nibble of my pumpkin pie and sip of my coffee Thanksgiving night after I had two helpings of my Thanksgiving meal. I cannot rush that pleasure as it comes but once a year.

It’s not only me. There is a big debate if Black Friday is edging out Thanksgiving. Many people think this way; Black Friday has taken on the characteristics of the holidays and has become a holiday of its own. Many retail stores announced an early opening on Thanksgiving night, a few hours earlier than the stores’ midnight opening in 2011. The store employees are upset because the schedules take away their time from the joy of family time together. To me it’s ironically a lose-lose situation because people have to leave their family gathering to buy gifts for them. What is more important: giving time or giving gifts to our loved ones?

The other day an old colleague of mine who had severe damage to her house on Staten Island in the flood told me she still has so much to be thankful for and started a new tradition this Thanksgiving. She volunteered at an early Thanksgiving dinner on Staten Island to serve a meal to those who were less fortunate than she was. She indicated that “I was witness that many people lost everything they have with Sandy. I am luckier than them and felt obligated to do something for them.” She also, pointed out that when Hurricane Sandy hit on Oct. 29, lots of people whom she doesn’t know helped her and her family, and she wanted to do something for others to pay it forward.

I wanted to start a new tradition on this Thanksgiving, too. I made a list of things that I am thankful for and thanked God for every one of them. Subsequently, whenever I feel down, I’ll take out that list and start thinking and thanking again.

You’ll be at the top of my list. I am truly thankful for each of you who read my articles and take the time to write me feedback with support and to nurture my ideas and opinions or to offer me a different point of view to enrich my thoughts. And now, it’s your turn to let me know what you are thankful for.

Every day should be Thanksgiving since we have a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving. Today and every day…

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