When I immigrated to the US a little over two years ago, celebrating Thanksgiving is something new to me. I simply know that most Americans get together during this time of the year as we would on Christmas Day. In the Philippines, Christmas is what we consider the season of gratitude, and if you’re a Christian (or a Catholic), you’ll understand why. In the spirit of gratitude and appreciation, I’m sharing some things I’m thankful for this season:
The Gift of Employment
Moving away from home is one thing; moving to a completely new-to-me place is another. I had a really fulfilling job back in Manila, and if I had it my way, I would still be working the same job today. I lost track of the number of times people asked me if I had plans of working when I get here. The will to work was not the question; it’s finding a job with zero experience and employment history here in the US that was tough. I was literally building a new life here.
We get by with just Roan having a regular job (plus his military benefits), but since we’re starting a life together as a family, I don’t mind getting busy and making a contribution, too. It took me 11 months (a month shy from my first year anniversary here in the US) to finally get a job, and in the same company as my husband’s, no less.
I am grateful for this job that puts roof over our heads and food on our table. A job that allows us to acquire nice things and to travel for leisure that other people don’t have the luxury of. It may not be the best yet, but it could help me get the best. It’s a door that will lead to another; a door I had to pray for to get to. I’m just grateful that the door even opened.
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Gift of Family and Friends
This year has been a big one, family-wise. Wondering when I’ll ever see my family again has been looming in my head since the day I left home. I always keep them in my thoughts and prayers because I never want to be comfortable to the idea of not having them around.
My parents are not getting any younger, and not being around to look after and take care of them makes me anxious. Being reunited with Mom and Dad last September was one answered prayer. While I did (and still do) miss my brothers, I keep it together by knowing that we share a special bond/connection I can never have with anyone else.
Roan and I don’t have many friends here, but we do have a few whom we consider like family. Being around friends every now and then allows me to momentarily put my worries and homesickness aside. I am grateful for family and friends I know I can count on.
The Gift of Love and Commitment
Roan and I haven’t been married that long to be able to give a profound wisdom about marriage (and married life), but one thing is certain: love is not enough to keep it together. I have learned, throughout our 4-year relationship as husband and wife (a total of eight years as a couple), that commitment goes hand-in-hand with love. Love and commitment go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s true that relationships will get by with only one or the other, but they may not be as solid as with both elements in them.
I’d be the biggest hypocrite if I tell you that Roan and I get along well 100% of the time. That we never get frustrated with each other when expectations aren’t met or when we’re not on the same page about certain things because we do. All the time. We just learn to compromise and be a little more kind and understanding with each other. That we’d rather talk things out—no matter how difficult that is sometimes—than walking away with unresolved issues.
I am grateful for my husband. I know it’s God’s doing that I could not have chosen a better partner in life than Roan. If I’m given the chance to do a do-over, I’d still choose him to be my husband for the same reasons I had when I agreed to marry him the first time.
The Gift That Life Lessons Bring
I just had to throw this into the mix because life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life are the products of failures and mistakes. Some of them are my own, and some I learned from other people’s setbacks. I continue to learn not to beat myself up for a clouded judgment, a tinted perspective, or an unfair remark. Every mistake helps me grow, to learn, and to understand. I am grateful for the wisdom that my mistakes enabled. I couldn’t have learned a lesson in life if I didn’t go through only that experience can enable. Every lesson I learned in the process makes me more experienced than I was yesterday. I am grateful for that experience.