Our Salvadoran American family will have its traditional, one-day-late, Friday night Thanksgiving celebration here in Turkey with British, Mexican, Belgian, Brazilian, and Turkish friends. Being far away from home and family makes it important to create our own traditions. Every year my daughter and I make homemade decorations. Our guests write what they’re thankful for on red, yellow and orange paper leaves to hang on our Thanksgiving tree. I have happy memories of our past Thanksgivings in Turkey, and some disasters behind me as well, such as the year I burned holes in all my tablecloths with candle place settings!
I don’t regret for a moment the fact that I’ll only have one other native born American to celebrate with. Giving thanks goes beyond nationality, and it’s a delight for me to share my holiday with friends.
I want thanksgiving to be a lifestyle rather than a one day celebration, but I confess I’m prone to whining and complaining. On my quest for a more thankful heart, I started a One Thousand Gifts list last summer, and I’ve almost reached the 1000 point. Here are some of the blessings I’m counting:
965. Thanks to a generous, miracle working friend, I have a 20 lb. bird thawing in my fridge! We’ve named him Angus, and he’s our first Thanksgiving turkey since we’ve moved to Turkey, where said fowl are usually only available for New Year’s Eve.
966. We have so many lovely friends who have become like family to us over the years here. It takes away from the always missing home and helps a person feel planted where they are.
967. Sixteen years of marriage to a wonderful man.
968. Despite my occasional doubts that we might be messing them up by bringing them here, our two teenagers are maturing beautifully and growing spiritually.
969. The spiritual growth seminar I taught this fall ended on a great note. All 10 of the students presented brief devotional talks, and I was excited to see these brothers speaking enthusiastically about their relationship with God.
970. My friend Liz’s face glowed as she told me of a recent chance she had to share the message with two local children. Last week she hosted a children’s party in her home with games, crafts and stories. Still struggling to learn Turkish with a new baby and two small girls, Liz has a lot of good reasons to put outreach on hold for a while. Instead, she’s taking what she has and putting it to the service of the King.
971. My Turkish sister just celebrated 13 years of walking with Christ. Her example of a heart committed to Jesus encourages me.
972. Who knew an Olympic sized skating rink would open up near our home? My daughter is pursuing a cherished dream: ice skating.
973. A quiet moment of prayer offered for Perihan, a mslm friend, and the look of gratitude on her face.
Sometimes life takes me on a sunny path, and sometimes it takes me through valleys, storms and mountains, but I’m trying to keep smiling and keep counting my blessings.
What is one thing you can give thanks for today? Share it with me and give me another reason to smile.