You are probably thinking it’s odd that I’m writing about Thanksgiving a full week after the holiday. The truth is I’m not good at timely blogging, and it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Also, I’m lazy. I am realizing that living overseas means letting go of attachments to specific dates and times. This also applies to celebrating holidays. When you are half a world away from home, you celebrate whenever you find the time, and you take whatever traditions you can get. That said, I spent my weekend (Saturday and Sunday) in Wuhan, celebrating Thanksgiving with my TA teammates.
We met up in Wuhan’s French Quarter at Aloha Hawaiian Diner. Aloha is known for serving up American diner favorites like hamburgers, fish tacos, and milkshakes. Over Thanksgiving weekend, they are also the only place in Wuhan to offer a real turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Our team spent about 4 hours here, enjoying each other’s company and chowing down on all the mashed potatoes, cranberries, and stuffing we could get.
After our meal, we stuffed ourselves into one of Wuhan’s ever-crowded buses and headed across town to the homes of my teammates, Will and Marilyn. In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, we got to celebrate my roommate Danielle’s 20th birthday. We lit two decade’s worth of candles, perched them on top of a cheesecake, and let the festivities continue.
During our time together, my teammates and I took some time to tell each other things we are thankful for. We had the usual line-up (friends, family, health, food, etc.), but I also kept thinking about something my students said. When I asked them what they were thankful for, one of them chimed in, “difficulties in life, because they make me stronger.” At Thanksgiving dinner, we read a devotional from Philippians about rejoicing always and in every situation, essentially about being thankful for everything, both the good and the bad.
Between our devotion and the wisdom of my students, I have been reflecting about what it means to really have joy in the Lord and to appreciate everything that happens to me. What would it look like if I reacted with thanks when life is difficult? What could I learn from the things that I instinctively take to be negative experiences? What could life look like if I really lived a lifestyle of thanksgiving that extends beyond a yearly holiday? After all, that’s what this holiday is all about, teaching us to be thankful at all times for what we are blessed with, even the blessings in disguise.