We didn’t do turkey or any big feast.  The truth was, I wouldn’t have minded skipping Thanksgiving altogether, but it was a stretch of four glorious days of a long weekend. So I relented when my little guy requested for “Mommy’s fried chicken”, then I bought some salads and tried my hand at regenerating some dried mangoes to mix with vanilla ice cream (a success!) and the shelf bought cheesecake filling (perfect when frozen!).. All in all, I think I managed a decent meal, and my number one guest, the 11-year-old, was all smiles.

After all the leftovers have been taken cared of and all the thanks have been said, I think it’s but fitting to list the things I am thankful for not just because it’s the time to give thanks, but because the year is drawing to a close.

I am thankful..

..for the blessing of family who have kept me going from day to day.  While I can say that 2015 has been better than 2014, it has been quite a year of changes and many leaps — oftentimes, of faith, as they say — and I have made strides in moving forward.  I have been blessed with the unwavering love of my family, and my greatest love, my son, who keeps me grounded in all that I do.

.. for the friends, old and new, who never let awkward get between us, even when others chose to stay away.  It hasn’t been an easy journey as some I had looked to for support chose to keep me at arm’s length. It has been a time for reflection as I literally found out who my real friends were.  It’s not an easy reality check to face, but face it, I did.

I have no bitterness for those who thought it better to stay in the sidelines, because those that stayed and held my hand more than made up for those who didn’t.  I found new friends who walked into my life as others tiptoed away.  I heard the wisdom of strangers that kept me standing  firm when I would have been knocked out. I found people who just sat and listened, and who saw me for who I really was.

Friendships, I had long ago learned, were not defined by how long someone had been in your life.  Almost like falling in love, but not of the amorous kind– it’s that bond that you feel deep down in your in your heart, even if you just met yesterday.

..for the gift of words that have enabled me to put my thoughts and feelings into writing.  I don’t know what I would have done if I had to bottle up everything inside me.  It doesn’t work for everyone, and writing doesn’t mean writing about everything that I think and feel.  Yet there are words and phrases and posts that enable me to get in touch with a part of me I cannot otherwise bring out any other way.  Like now.

.. for the blessing of having faith in the midst of it all.  I always say that I respect everyone’s chosen faith or belief or lack of it.  Faith is a personal choice.  And holding mine in my heart — both during the moments when I feel like I have nothing left to hold on to, and during those moments when the happiness or joy I feel affirms it– is a blessing I cherish.

.. for the means to express myself in the most elementary of ways, be it in scribblings, papercrafts or playing with colors. I kept busy to stay positive.  It helps me to channel my burdens into something productive.  When sleep or even just silence eludes me, I can find my calm and the stillness in other ways.  All I have to do is pick up a pen, my tools or just let my thoughts take me away to a story that unfolds in a constant daydream live streaming in my head.  I know that it isn’t always easy for others to filter their negative thoughts and energy into something positive, and while it has been an evolving process for me, I am thankful I can.

.. for being able to see the glass half full, even when at times I knew it was really half empty. I have always been the eternal optimist, and my brain and heart have been trained through the years to focus on the good rather than the bad.  It has helped me to mask the sadness and the heartache when I needed to put on a brave face.

.. for having the humility to laugh at myself, and finding the light in the midst of all the challenges and disappointments that came my way.  One thing I have learned is that we cannot take life too seriously, even when it seems to be hell bent on seeing us fall flat on our face.  I think it speaks volumes about how we deal with life when we are able to take it all in good stride, and laugh with those who laugh at us when we find ourselves down and out.  If we can find the humor in the sorry situations we find ourselves in, no matter how ridiculous or how tight a bind we might fall into, there is a better chance that we will get out of it with less pain or harm.

.. for the second and the third and the fourth chances I was given– which, in turn, paved the way for the fab discoveries I made not just about myself, but about the world around me.. There are mistakes that just happen and mistakes that we commit out of choice.  The latter being a product of bad judgment, or perhaps a miscalculation.  And yet life is generous with do-overs or second or third chances.. We often get a second stab at things in the most unexpected of circumstances.  Someone who may have offended us fades away from our lives, and someone else comes in who proves to be not a better replacement, but just a better friend altogether.  What we thought might have been a bad call resulting in a loss might actually be us being saved from ourselves.  I have had many such breaks in the last 11 months, and I keep trying.

I have been jaded, true, but never jaded enough to give up on life.  Disappointments have led me to lower my expectations in general — and perhaps it’s that lack of or lowered expectations which have led me to be pleasantly surprised when the good things come my way.

.. for never losing the courage to try new things.. Like the desserts that I discovered, the new things I got to do.. The things I got the chance to do over, and over and over again.  I have always been adventurous but never daringly bold.  So sometimes, something as elementary as trying out new food, being adventurous with my palate, or even just changing things up can lead to some wonderful discoveries.  We just have to take that “big girl” step to get there.  I had taken quite a few this year and I’m might proud of “big girl me”.

It can also be about the things we give up to focus on something singular.  Life can be so much better when we need to focus our energies on one instead of many voices.

..for the new appreciation I have for this city I call home, where I know I truly belong.  There was a time I thought I had had enough of New York City and had started saying goodbye.  But like many things that had come and gone, the feeling went and I realized this was where I truly belonged.  For all the heartaches and disappointments I have had here, some of my greatest joys, particularly in the last year, were also found here.  So to NYC, I say Thank you.

.. for my son’s resilience in the face of the changes the world around him has thrust on his lap.  Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I’m putting too much stock on finding my strength in his, but he has proven to be even stronger than I thought. Perhaps it’s his innocence or his maturity — but this 11-year-old has pick me up from many falls, and he is still there, holding me up

I may not have celebrated Thanksgiving this year with much aplomb, but I feel the gratitude crowding my heart as I think about the many things I have been blessed with.  It was a meaningful Thanksgiving, yes, for different reasons beyond the turkey and the feast.

#Thankful for the #sunshine and the #blessings. For @angelogon2004 who makes it all #WorthIt every single day. For all the #ReasonsToBeHappy. #HappyThanksgiving.. #gothamchicksays #inmybackyard #pinaynewyorker

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