Thanksgiving, the Feast of Gratitudes
Thanksgiving, by my preferred definition, is the Feast of Gratitudes. This brings to mind Thanksgiving celebrations which we traditionally hosted at home when my husband was alive. A custom we adopted before the meal and while everyone gathered around the festive table was asking all to mention what they were thankful for. The first time we did this, we caught our guests in surprise. They either stuttered for some long seconds, digged deep for answers, stumbled over words – or were just stunned quiet. Funny and amazing to me – I privately surmised, shouldn’t we be quick in identifying what we’re thankful for.
Perhaps, the difficulty was prioritizing the names or things. Perhaps, it was an unexpected query into what one values in life meriting gratitude. Maybe, it was a painful question of the moment, an uninvited peek that lent confusion. I honestly don’t know. But what I remember is that the next year we broached the improvised custom before Thanksgiving meal, the same guests were ready. It was like listening to endless thank you’s during an Oscar awards night. No awkward tension in the air, but hearty declarations of gratitude that put smiles in everyone’s face.
Gratitude is the real meat of Thanksgiving. For me, I always top my list with a love-filled thank you to our Father God in His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit – and then, to family, loved ones, friends … and on and on and on, a list hard to interrupt, like the garrulous rush during the warning from orchestral music on Oscar awards night.
Let’s be ready with our lists in our hearts and minds, for the coming Feast of Gratitudes. Happy, blessed Thanksgiving, everyone!
Symbolical painting by Peck Piñon, celebrated Filipino artist
So fascinated by a photo that Jaja, the son of my nephew Chito, sent me, that I share it here in my blog. It is a picture of an oil painting on canvas by Filipino celebrated artist Peck Piñon, who also distinguished himself as a comedian/actor. The framed artwork is a gift of Chito’s Uncle Narding Paco, a retired businessman and modest art connoisseur and collector. Now in his late senior years, Narding has seen the heydays of his thriving business and its decline due to unfortunate circumstances. Chito and his siblings regard this uncle and his wife Lety with extreme gratitude for the selfless role the couple has taken in generously helping the family through challenging times. The priced painting is a precious gift to Chito from Narding.
Picture of an oil painting on canvas by celebrated Filipino artist Peck Piñon (Photo by John Albert Pandes)
Fascinated and intrigued, I’ve stared at the picture for prolonged moments, trying to determine if the fishermen are lugging their net to sea or from sea. My interpretation is – from sea. With the boats shown behind them, the fishermen are carrying the net back to shore. The net is empty. The weight is without catch, but why are the men stooped in the task of pulling the net? It is the weariness of disappointment. The frustration of having nothing. The lost hope for gain. Piñon so distinctly and dramatically expressed these deflated feelings in a finely crafted art that powerfully evokes emotions. A great deal of pathos in this painting. And a tinge of similarity between the fishermen and Narding who lost a business that flourished in his younger years.
But life goes on, as it is for these fishermen, and the elderly gentleman Narding who, recently in a Zoom meeting with family, was clearly and vigorously reciting for the nieces and nephews his favorite Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want …” A wonderful; thought and message for Thanksgiving, and for all times.
Acts of kindness
Today, my church friend Connie came by to check my expresso machine that has failed to squirt out milk into my coffee cup. It’s been that way for a month now, and I had never been able to troubleshoot the problem. The other day, she dropped off four huge hybrid persimmons with plump, shiny orange skin that entices my appetite for the fruit. They aren’t ripe yet. I so look forward to the sweet crunch. Perhaps in a few days, they’ll be perfect.
Because this friend used to work for the Expresso shop at Stanford Shopping Center, I mentioned my coffee machine problem to her. She offered good advice regarding care of the machine, valuable instruction on how to clean the milk cartridge, and the need for passing descaling solution in the main gadget itself. So thankful to her. I enjoy my Nespresso in the early mornings. I love and am grateful for acts of kindness.
Things you take for granted – until they’re gone
Yesterday, I drove to Lozano’s car wash in Palo Alto, only to find out that the business had closed for construction. My car is in need of a bath, so when I heard from the weather report that light rain was expected Thursday night to Friday, relieved, I eagerly waited for it. My car will be doused a bath from the sky, so I thought. While the clouds did turn dark and the sky, a hazy gray, no rain. Right now, I’m looking at my car parked in front of my house – dust spread thick on the roof; brown and yellow leaves from the autumnal tree above scattered all over its hood and windshield.
I so miss Lozano’s. a fixture on El Camino Real, Palo Alto for decades. I’m sure, many customers do, too. I miss the hardworking Lozano workers that did a good job of vacuuming and cleaning the inside and outside surface of the car. There is none like Lozano’s in the close vicinity. Meantime, I still hope for some light rain. Just maybe, my car will get a bath this week or next week.
Musing about the next generation
I had a strange but interesting conversation across the miles with my niece Nikki and her husband Gab recently, mainly about their lovable almost 2-year-old son Zi. Aside from gloating over the toddler’s endearing playfulness and fast growth, we spoke about a surprising comment Zi made. Zi pulled his Mom to the veranda in the Los Baños (Phil.) home and pointed to the sky, insisting that “God opened the sky”. Of course, the baffled mother could not fully comprehend her son’s claim, but was struck by how a little child, practically still a baby, could have such thoughts which he verbalized while pointing to the sky. What did this toddler see? Did the purity of his mind behold visions invisible to the adult eye? Or did the depth and magnanimity of his young imagination create impressions we adults will never understand? Mysterious and awesome indeed.
This little boy is most entertaining especially when he cantankerously stomps out dance moves in tempo with music from a cell phone or someone’s mouth — or roars out “brrrooom” to mimic growling sounds from his Lolo’s motorcycle. But more than just regaling Zi’s talents and fun antics, our conversation sobered up when his father Gab uttered pensively, “What’s going to happen to Zi’s generation?” This was intimated after our video chat rolled into rambling dialogues on world affairs, and the pandemic’s effects on events and lives all over the world. The father expressed anxiety for Zi’s generation and other young generations that come after, that will either face the consequences of fallacies and misgivings of our generation, or learn from these doings, good and bad, to make the world a better place.
What’s going to happen to Zi’s generation? So, Gab – the answer is never without hope.