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A Real Thanksgiving

As I stood eating my Thanksgiving meal of turkey, ham and salad, I look at the faces of the families, mothers and fathers with their sick children enjoying the feast our group in Couples for Christ just served them. Despite what they were going through, they smiled and thanked us for preparing a wonderful dinner that otherwise would have been an ordinary day of cold sandwiches or leftovers from the common fridge at the Ronald Mcdonald House, not because they had no resources to prepare it, but because they were just exhausted from going to and from the BC Children’s Hospital to take care of their children who were undergoing treatment. When you look at your own life and your own family compared to what these families are experiencing, you suddenly realize that complaining about whatever state you’re currently in is shameful. Looking at the children (with illnesses you only thought affected adults and people in the twilight of their lives) with smiles on their faces and enjoying every bite of the warm apple pie with ice cream or a fresh donut, you can only surmise that the illness doesn’t bother them at all.

As brothers and sisters, we all stopped and said a prayer for each other and grace before the meal. It was truly amazing to see a life-giving spirit and human solidarity, in sharing not only blessings, but also the anxiety and uncertainty in their eyes.  You have to stop and think, what do they have to be thankful for being there? Then the real question hits you – what do I have to be thankful for myself?

I am thankful for being here in Canada. Despite having a pothead for a Prime Minister who only seeks to look great, to smoke pot, and to take selfies, I have a working healthcare, childcare benefits, taxes that work for  my benefit, a roof over my head and a car to get me around where I need to be. I have twelve long weekends to celebrate with my family, clean air to breathe and less than a foot of snow during winter (and even less in some years). I don’t have a pouty President who speaks his mind even if he has nothing good to say, on Twitter or in ambush interviews, nor do I have a President who kills everyone with his foul mouth and foul personality, as well as his own posse of scalawags he calls his “soldiers” against the war on drugs.

I am thankful for the opportunities I am given to serve others, whether in the Philippines or here in my adopted country. Because I have the resources to do so, and many generous hearts who understand the causes that I stand for and give their own share, I am able to do more for God’s children in the last five years than in the last thirty-six that I spent in the Philippines.

I am thankful for having had the chance to meet the good people in the Filipino community who truly have a heart for the Pinoys in Canada, not the ones who pretend to care, then rob the community of its resources and its dignity by bad-mouthing them in public. I am thankful for the different organizations in the Filipino community who truly work hard to benefit the Pinoys here in Canada and back home by supporting charities such as ANCOP.

I am thankful for my work as an educator, to mold minds and to build a better and more positive future; that despite the ugliness in the world, I am able to tell them that God loves them, and that He helps those who take care of the home He gave us.

There’s still a number of things I am thankful for, but an entire article will not be sufficient to list them down. I am certainly thankful for my own family who have stood by me and have supported everything I do, and children who are able to carry out the mission their parents have embarked on. I am thankful as well to a bigger community of believers in Couples for Christ, brothers and sisters who believe in the mandate of our baptism to serve others.

This Thanksgiving, the amazing and wonderful families at the Ronald Mcdonald House have taught me many things just with their smiles, appreciation and steadfast spirit. They have taught me that thankfulness is truly a grace from God that one can only appreciate if one learns to give and to be thankful for that opportunity to share one’s blessings.