GRACIAS A DIOS

“Hola. ¿Cómo está?”

“¿Muy bien, y usted?”

“Bien, gracias a dios.”

For several months after we moved here we puzzled over why such friendly people would respond to our inquiries as to how they were with, "Fine, thank you, goodbye." Did they not want us here? Bill finally figured out that they were saying gracias a dios (thanks to God), not gracias adios (thank you, goodbye). Too bad people here aren't equipped with dialogue bubbles - I’m a very visual learner. We’ll talk about my embarrassingly poor Spanish skills some other time.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Ironically, we’ll be celebrating here with a potluck feast at the home of Ernesto and Verena, who are Swiss. The handful of ex-pats scattered throughout our area include people from the U.S., Canada, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Holland. A Ukrainian couple recently bought Laguna Mar Hotel, but they’re not around much.

I enjoyed Thanksgiving a lot more before I learned about what a bummer the arrival of Europeans was for the American Indians. It seems that no one ever mentioned that part about Thanksgiving until recent years. (For a factual account of the first Thanksgiving, read Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.) Along with the dissolution of my nice image of Pilgrims and Indians having a good chuckle together while gnawing on bones from big, fat Butterball turkeys, I have ditched the need to eat turkey on Thanksgiving and chosen to focus instead on gratefulness, a practice which seems to be gathering momentum these days, gracias a dios.

This is how we celebrated Thanksgiving in Nantucket. While thankful to have our nuclear family (plus a few more added guests not shown in photo) all together on Thanksgiving, the small group pictured here felt a tad lonely without the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins we'd feast with before we moved to the island. I consider our Nantucket years a primer for learning to adapt to change. Embracing change is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself.

For the first few years in Costa Rica, we just sort of bypassed Thanksgiving. What was Thanksgiving without turkey and lots of family? Hot, tropical weather and swaying palm trees did nothing to help us conjure up images of Pilgrims and Indians celebrating their harvest. Three years ago, Marie, another American, decided that in our unique situation, our ex-pat community could be considered a sort of family and we should all get together and be grateful, turkey be damned. Last week I actually did find one frozen turkey in a bigger store a few hours from here, but I've decided it can stay in my freezer until February, when at least we'll have three out of four daughters here to eat it with us. I'm sure the people from other countries at our potluck won't miss it and the other Americans missing their kids will understand that I want to save the bird to be eaten with my girls.

I certainly don't want to be one of those old ladies who sits around pining for the lost joys of younger days. I want to go to bed each night for the rest of my life knowing that I did my best to appreciate every single moment as it happened.

At this moment, I'm grateful for:

❀ my family

❀ my friends

❀ the economy improving so we can all buy more plane tickets

❀ my pets

❀ my awesome house in my awesome spot

❀ my pool

❀ my bed

❀ the magnificence of nature

❀ the right to travel freely with proper paperwork instead of wandering around with all of my possessions strapped to my back trying to find a place where I'm welcome to exist

❀ wisdom gleaned from my adventure and 62 years' worth of experience being human

❀ the realization that I now laugh more than I used to

❀ the realization that I now enjoy myself more than I used to

❀ the realization that I'm learning to accept and embrace instead of judge

❀ the realization that my world fills with more and more love every day

❀ all the magic I never knew existed

❀ the way shafts of late afternoon sunlight carress the horses and cows in the pastures, never failing to get me all choked up by the beauty of it all

❀ my readers. Thank you for coming to my blog.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM MY PIECE OF PARADISE TO YOURS