Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Feast of Gratitude and Miracles: when the turkey meets the latke

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much youve been given”  -  Marelisa Fabrega

I was very skeptical about miracles, and never particularly grateful for what I had as I always believed I worked hard and I got what I deserved. I took everything for granted. It all changed when I almost lost my mom in a car accident. Although the doctors said there was not much they could do, they kept fighting for her survival. Since then, I believe in miracles and Im especially thankful for good health and for the miracle workers out there. This year, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving brought it all together for me- someone shared with me a few days ago.

Ive always celebrated Hanukkah since the day my saba (grandfather) gave me the same Hanukkiah Im still lighting 40 plus years later. With that Hanukkiah, my saba gave me the wonderful gift of tradition. I love Hanukkah, the celebration and its meaning. I love celebrating miracles, not only because life itself is one, but because I believe in those who create miracles and applaud those who keep believing.

When I moved to the USA, 15 years ago, I learned all about Thanksgiving, a joyous celebration of gratitude that was easily welcomed in our family tradition. Being grateful is something that my Jewish roots have always taught me, from the morning prayers to different rituals during the day. Judaism is a religion that constantly reminds us to appreciate life and its gifts. I love everything about Thanksgiving. I celebrate the good and the challenging, as one without the other cannot exist, and Im thankful for being alive and be able to overcome whatever life brings.

This year, Thanksgiving falls on the first day of Hanukkah, a rare fact that only happened once before, in 1888. I believe it is easy to celebrate both together, not only because latkes can go well with cranberry sauce, or the turkey can look nice on a table next to the Hanukkah candles, or maybe because both are a celebration of freedom from religious oppression and persecution. I believe Hanukkah and Thanksgiving can complement each other in a beautiful way: being thankful for the miracle of life and for those who make miracles happen!

That insight shared with me a few days ago made me think about so many things, but mostly about themiracle workers. It made me think about all of us who volunteer in different organizations to make the difference, and those who contribute with their donations to give hope and a better tomorrow to others, the ones who work in the non for profit sector, and the police officers and the fire fighters, and the teachers, doctors and nurses, the soldiers defending their country, and all the good people in this planet who one way or another decide to make it a better place. Anyone who still believes that something good can happen if we at least try, no matter how devastating reality can be some times, is a miracle worker to me. And to that miracle worker, I will dedicate this Thanksgiving that this year is holding the hand of Hanukkah, a celebration to feel gratitude for their miracles, day in and day out. An eternal gratitude for keeping the oil burning!

I invite you to think about the miracles in your life, the people who create them for you and the miracles that you create for others. Connecting with those miracles helps us understand our purpose on earth and to feel the gratitude and joy for our miraculous life.

Have a happy holiday and a life filled with latkes and turkey, miracles and gratitude!

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