Gratitude Countdown Continues Post Thanksgiving

by Nelia Dingcong Bernabe
December 1, 2012
As we transition over to the holiday of gift giving and spreading cheers, my gratitude countdown does not stop simply because Thanksgiving 2012 came and went.
It’s been a few weeks, I know, but last month was election month and that sapped all my energy out. The anticipation was killing me and by the time Election Day came, I could not wait for it to be over. I was tired and ready to move on.
For over a decade now, we – first with our three kids and now just the hubby and me – celebrate Thanksgiving with our closest of friends in Berwyn. The husband-and-wife hosts, Pat and Nory Paderna, have been so gracious and generous in opening their home to over a dozen people. They do it year after year, and this year was no different.

Thanksgiving Feast in Berwyn, IL Seated L-R, Mila Moreno, Nenita Roque, a guest, Louella Portillo, Lucy Banias, Nelia Bernabe, Ligaya Moreno Diomede, and Ruth Ababao. Standing L-R, Elva Casa, Nory Paderna, Terry Paderna, and Carmen Paderna.

The food was tremendous and typical of a Filipino party. It was a fusion of the all-American Thanksgiving tradition with the trimmings of your typical Filipino gastronomical extravaganza with the roast pig as the showstopper.
Through the years, I’ve watched the same cast of characters come to these Thanksgiving dinners and saw how these dinners have grown in attendance. I’ve literally watched all the kids transform from being babies to toddlers to teens to young adults who are ready to be thrust into full adulthood. Where did time go?
And my friends. We go way back and that by itself is a huge reason to say thank you. We’ve managed to keep the friendship alive and made each Thanksgiving dinner through the years as memorable as the last one.
Then there are my other friends’ children who not only have grown taller than me but also have now gotten married and have children of their own. Or the other children who are now in their 20s and are now old enough to have their own significant other. Oh, to see young love flourish! It’s a wonderful break for us “oldies” to be on the sidelines just observing. I am grateful for the opportunity to watch these kids grow up! Again, where did time go?
We’ve quietly carved out our own tradition – and kept it up – by converging on this one special place once a year. For a few hours, we get together and spend the time reminiscing, exchanging stories and planning the future. We’ve done these for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Although we profusely say our thanks throughout the year, it’s during this one very special day that we recognize our collective triumphs more than the challenges we’ve encountered. Or at least that’s my wish. We say thank you for another year, for the blessings no matter the size, for good health, and for just making it through another year.
For my family, it’s watching our now two-year-old granddaughter, Olivia, grow up and get to know the world around her. Hubby and I have learned to see the world through her eyes. There’s a lot to be said about seeing things through the eyes of a toddler. It’s more than rose-tinted and perfect. It’s learning how to be spontaneous and living in the moment, and for that I’m grateful.
And of course there are the staples. We raised our glasses to being alive, for our good health, our jobs, our relationships, our family, our good friends, for kindness, for compassion, and for everything in between. We are grateful for opportunities and second chances. We are grateful for difficult people who teach us to rise above our own shortcomings. We are grateful for challenging situations that allow us to think on our feet. We are grateful for awkward moments that force us to get out of our comfort zone.
Gratitude is a powerful force. Those who preach it espouse its life-changing effects. A life of gratitude takes away the spotlight from one’s self and in its stead, a more grounded and less self-centered existence, thus a happier individual.
Looking through those same rose-tinted glasses, it’s unrealistic to be that grateful every day of the year. But I’ve been told it’s not far-fetched and it can be done. Although a smooth ride is not guaranteed, I will continue to try and take on the challenge of cultivating a gratuitous heart. You ought to try it, too!
So we move past the special day of thanks and jump right to a holiday that will allow us to practice what we preach. In this holiday season where we open our hearts a little wider, my hope is simple. As more and more families struggle to make both ends meet, I pray that each one of us could be God’s foot soldier and allow Him to work on us so we can make a difference in people’s lives. If you think you can’t, at least try!
From three famous people, here’s what they have to say –
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Sir Winston Churchill
“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.” – Oprah Winfrey
Until next time, thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.

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