We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving when I was young. My parents were Chinese immigrants so, for us, Thanksgiving wasn’t a holiday. That all changed when I moved in with my husband. He came from a large Italian/Polish family that celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with gusto.
My most memorable Thanksgiving was one of our first together. We spent it at his baby sister’s house in Illinois. His other sister and her husband also made the trek from Jersey. I still didn’t know his youngest sister very well and had never met her kids but, surprisingly, I wasn’t apprehensive at all about the long weekend. The family had welcomed me warmly into the fold soon after I was introduced to them, despite their continuing friendship with his ex-wife.
That weekend, we didn’t do anything extraordinary. We cooked, hung out in the cozy den, ate, drank, walked around Chicago, watched cheesy movies on cable, and just got to know each other better.
It was the first time I understood what a family get-together was all about.
My second most memorable Thanksgiving was the year we went to Paris.
My husband was born on Thanksgiving Day, so every year his birthday falls close to, or on, Thanksgiving. That year, when I found a sale on European flights, I impulsively decided to buy tickets to Paris for his birthday. It wasn’t entirely altruistic. Having studied French for years as a teenager, I was dying to see Paris. Walter, not so much. He had heard too many stories about haughty French people who hated Americans. I promised him we wouldn’t go overboard in expenditures despite Paris’s reputation as an ultra-expensive city and researched like crazy in guidebooks and travel magazines, looking for bargains. (This was in the prehistoric pre-internet days!)
We stayed in an unassuming small hotel that was central to attractions and close to the Metro. We went everywhere by Metro and spent days walking around the city. Despite restricting ourselves to inexpensive restaurants, we never had a bad meal. We cruised the Seine, shopped the local markets and stashed cheap but good bottles of wine and exotic cheeses on the tiny balcony outside our hotel room to feast on at night. It was idyllic and was capped by a turkey dinner on our flight home on Air France, complete with free wine and cognac.
I reflect back on these two special, but uniquely different, Thanksgivings when I find it hard to summon up some gratitude during the holidays.
The family Thanksgiving reminds me that connection is the essence of all holidays — celebrating the people who support us. The Paris experience literally shifted my perspective. By spending the holiday in a special location, I was forced to pay close attention to every sensation, marveling over everyday things that I normally might overlook.
Connection and Mindfulness.
Those, for me, are the key to staying grounded in gratitude. Embrace those you love and relish the ordinary everyday delights!
May Louie first took yoga in college to fulfill a Phys-Ed requirement and immediately fell in love. She, unfortunately, did not continue with her practice but reconnected with it when she retired from her corporate job in 2002 and has since become a serious yoga enthusiast. After her second retirement last year, she completed her 200-hour RYT certification, studying with Dina Crosta, Ellen Mosko, and Jamie Segal Hanley, with a focus on alignment based flow.
Never Miss a Post!
The Top Three Reasons for Joining NJYC
The greatest teachers, studios, classes and communities are in the Garden State.
You are ready to inspire and be inspired.
You believe in living a life you love, supported by a practice that makes you feel amazing