Thus far on my Watson journey (which requires travel outside the US for a year,) I have celebrated an August birthday with new friends in Cape Town, and been MIA during Labor Day, Election Day, and Veteran’s Day. Each of these holidays carries unique significance, which I have been fortunate to tap into while abroad.
Though with Thanksgiving upon us, things feel different.
For as long as I can remember, this distinctly United States holiday has been celebrated by spending long five-day weekends with family. For me, Thanksgiving is characterized by Christmas-morning-esque excitement to share time with siblings, relief over taking a step back from responsibilities at school, and mental preparation for victories both at the dinner table and in the annual Turkey Bowl.
However, as this year’s Thanksgiving approaches, my initial feeling is one of dissonance: partially prepared to pack a bag and help my family play suitcase Tetris in the trunk of mom and dad’s car, before flying past hundreds of truckers and construction workers up Interstate–81 through the Shenandoah Valley towards Martinsburg, WV and Lebanon County, PA; though I know it won’t happen. Not this year.
A week ago, I picked up an unpleasant illness – bringing malaria-like symptoms (the chills were actually quite nice, in the Ghana heat.) Fortunately, the malaria test was negative, and I was self-prescribed all-you-can-eat Royal Senchi breakfast plus the new John Mayer single “Love on the Weekend” – the kind of euphoric mainstream musical masterpiece that makes teenage girls swoon, tracing a guy’s visit to his affectionate partner for a weekend. It begins:
It’s a Friday,
we finally made it.
I can’t believe
I get to see your face.
Safe to say I overdosed on both prescriptions that Friday (which, for those who know me, will come as no surprise.) I spent most of the day at the Royal Senchi resort, then took a 5-minute cab ride home, where I tried to settle for a late-afternoon nap but couldn’t sleep.
Tiredly turning to my bedside table, I grabbed a book that Rachel kindly compiled in honor of my Watson journey, made up of laminated sleeves housing letters and pictures from loved ones.
Before finishing the first line, my emotions were moved to tears.
Life is full of many treasures.
I have loads to be thankful for – more things than I can imagine. Reading through this beautiful mosaic of notes from my parents, siblings, extended family, and friends served as a much needed reminder of this simple truth.
I was encouraged, inspired, amused, loved by the choice-words and images of some of the most dear people in my life.
I even felt messages from those whose words did not appear in ink – most notably my late grandparents (Grandpa, Richard | Grandma, Nancy) whom love the Thanksgiving holiday, followed by other family members and dear friends.
LOVE TRAVELS AND NEVER DIES.
The notes brought me laughter, too. A few of many laugh-out-loud moments:
May Thanksgiving bring you reminders of life’s most cherished treasures.