Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays because it is not over-saturated with commercialism (like most other holidays) and it seems like a day set aside for pure family time. I use this holiday to count my blessings, and reflect on the way I live.
On a plane ride to Quito Ecuador in 2008, I sat next to a woman named Lucia. On the flight, we talked about her visit to Florida to visit her son who is a chef in Miami. I asked her what book she was reading and asked her what Ecuador was like. She asked me why I was traveling, and I told her simply that I was on a learning tour to see how people lived in a totally different society. I told her that I would be learning about oil drilling effects, rose plantations and will be visiting native shamans in the Amazon rain forest who will teach us about the importance of the rain forest and share deforestation stories. Nothing was wrong with that answer. She was glad that I took heart in another society, but nothing else was really said. Before we landed, she gave me her phone number in case I had any more questions or if I needed to know of a great traditional Ecuadorian restaurant, and then she said something I will never forget. Lucia said, “Gabriel, you say you are coming to my country to see poverty, but there is no poverty here. It’s another way of living, and it is hard to understand that there are other ways to live.”
This story has stuck with me because it has many interpretations to me. One is that it makes me notice everything I have is a blessing. It teaches me that even people living in a third world country have their own lives and have blessings and hope. It makes me consider my needs and wants and the understanding that I can live a simpler life. I would get by just fine without most things in my room or my kitchen, or my living room. I am blessed for the jobs that I have, and the house I live in, and the car I drive even though I can live a life without things as nice as they really are. I am thankful for meeting Lucia for reminding me of another way of living as Jesus constantly does. This is my story of Thanksgiving.