Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

Well, Thanks a Lot! Gratitude from Martinis to Midnight Conversations….

Thanksgiving, as any holiday, is full of die-hard traditions. In my family of hearty eaters, we were always sure to have spiral cut ham in addition to a massive turkey. The stuffing recipe was passed down from generations and could not be altered even by one thyme sprig. Always present was also a suspicious looking marshmallow jello salad; it was always positioned next to the potatoes in hopes it may seem more appealing. My father was the only one that braved eating the gelatinous concoction, but it was still made diligently each year. Before we dug in to the buffet, we all had to go around the large oak table, hold hands and say what we were most thankful for.

Growing up, this game was always a battle of wits. My brother and I would prepare for days for the best ‘thankful’ response. The winner was the one whose response would cause someone to snort wine out of his or her nose in laughter or better yet, horrific shock. This ‘someone’ was usually me, however bonus points were given if the victim was a visiting PhD from my mother’s chemistry department. After a round of thanks we would then fake a grace. My aunt, a born again Christian, banned us from saying a ‘real’ grace as she felt our agnostic family was being sacrilegious if we used the word “Heavenly Lord.” We had to edit our prayers for things we all universally believed in. Like the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Or the Seahawks winning. Outside of prayer time, my aunt applauded our other traditions, including my father’s annual speech.

After Fake GraceTM was uttered, my father would grin and say the embarrassing line that has been in the family for four generations, “Wow. We sure have a lot of food. Hmmm….Well, as my grandmother always used to say-‘I wonder what the poor folk are eatin’ tonight?’ ” Although my father’s smirk was always met with groans, we all knew it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.

However, as with any tradition, our Thanksgiving routine became weakened by movement. The oak table is no longer frequented as we have all spread out across the US. Our rituals changed as we mixed with others and adopted some of their traditions. My brother married into a Chinese family. Last year they shared Turkey with us. This year I am having Dim Sum with them.

I’m rather excited about exploring a new food routine. But I still would like to keep our tradition of expressive gratitude. I think it is important to remind ourselves of what we do have, as opposed to what we don’t. Tomorrow I may not have a savory carcass to pick at, but I will get as many steamed dumplings as I desire. Seeking out other tales of gratitude, I polled Facebook to see what thanks my friends would be uttering this year. The theme was overwhelming in favor of friends, experiences, and of course, alcohol.  Ahhh, my personal holy trinity (sorry Aunt–I’m being sacrilegious again). Below is a sampling of responses:

A new mother who is happy to have tiny parts of her life back whenever she can: “Ketel One Martinis, up, with an olive & an onion…I want to write someone a thank you note every time I have one.”

A traveling school teacher who is currently in Brazil: How wonderful people are all over the world. I fell in with some GREAT people in Sao Paulo. We shared a wonderful time together til 3 am, talking and having fun. I’m LUCKY! We’re all lucky to share love with each other. I don’t care if it sounds corny-it’s true.”

A French Canadian who just moved to San Francisco for love: “Good coincidences in life – the ones that you actually pay attention to and thus make you be a better person.”

A Northwest, new adoptive parent of two. She had recently gotten a babysitter to host a wine fest at her house: “I am thankful for so many things but today just for the fact that I have a fully functioning body.”

A medical account rep who loves to travel: “A Friends, family, health and GPS devices!”

A recovering MBA student: “That my past is in the past, that I love my present, and that I hopefully have many tomorrows full of adventure with my awesome and crazy friends and family.”

As for me, I am thankful for my city of entrepreneurs, good tweetdeck updates and a heart that is as regenerative as my liver. I am also thankful that despite a vacant paycheck, raised eyebrows, and multiple mistakes, I am still plugging along, doing what I believe in. And as shared by many, I am grateful for friends and family that forgive my blunders and support me in a life transformation. I am not sure I would have the courage to continue if it were not for my community.

In the spirit of viewing the world with a glass half full, I am curious what others are thankful for? Send a comment! Bonus points of I snort out my wine while reading it.

1 Discussion on “Well, Thanks a Lot! Gratitude from Martinis to Midnight Conversations….”
  • What I like about this blog is that it discusses real issues and stories about inspiring women. Sometimes people get so overwhelmed with holiday to dos and Black Friday shopping that we overlook the real meaning of the holiday – being thankful for what we have. I am really thankful for great family and friends, and should probably spend some time crafting up a cheesy, but snortable thanksgiving speech…

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