Ballarat, Australia — Thanksgiving Day is for family and friends to gather and celebrate what they are most thankful for: a holiday that celebrates blessings, togetherness and thankfulness.

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday in the United States of America. It is also celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October and in Liberia on the first Thursday of November.

“Thank you” is probably one of the first very useful phrases we are taught as toddlers. Children are often reminded by their elders to say “thank you” and rightly so. They may be such simple words but forget to say it and you risk facing all sorts of strife, from the minor reprimand to the more severe relationship damaging consequences. I am now one of those elders! You will easily catch me reminding my children to say these two words. I often forget that they are no longer five years old. I will have to remember to trust that I have repeated it often enough when they were little, saying it comes naturally to them now. Besides, it does get to a point where reminding them to utter those words gets very annoying — for them, that is.

Many weekends of my life have been filled with opportunities for giving thanks. Thankful for Sunday church service, a celebration of faith that helps me to be hopeful, peace-filled and joyful amid life’s many challenges.

I am thankful for the chance to gather together with loved ones. Thankful for the good cooks who whip up delicious food for all to enjoy. Thankful for grandparents who doted over us, their grandchildren.

Thankful for shared laughter over the funniest of jokes, the silliest of things or over nothing at all. Thankful for music, singing and dancing! Thankful for seemingly endless games with siblings, cousins or friends just for the sheer fun of it. Thankful for my parents, uncles, aunties and other elders for all the wise counsel and for mediating when disagreements naturally (and expectedly!) arose among us young ones. Thankful for unconditional love, most especially when the going gets tough.

I was trying to think of a day when I did not say a single “thank you.” Fortunately, I cannot think of such a day. Now that’s another thing to be thankful for!

Although Thanksgiving Day is not celebrated in the Philippines nor here in Australia, I will personally welcome any excuse to give thanks. I decided to celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving by asking my family and friends what they are most thankful for. Their answers include faith, family, friends, mentors, talents, blessings, good health, bonding time, the presence of lovely people, prayers, community involvement and service, good education, yoga, the beautiful places and cities we live in, home, the chance to reconnect with old friends, reunions, those who inspire us, respect for elders, learning new things each day, our Filipino sense of community and the bayanihan spirit. I am sure you can add more to this list.

Indeed there are many things to be thankful for! It is no surprise to many of us that once you go down that heartwarming path of giving thanks, gratitude overflows!

At this point, let me thank you for allowing my thoughts and writing to be a part of your day. Hopefully you found something here that gives you a dose of thankfulness.

In the languages I am grateful to be fluent in — Daghang salamat. Salamat karajaw.
Maraming salamat. Thank you very much.

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