Reflecting on the Season of Giving and Gratitude

By Sheila Parmar, Senior VP Marketing and Communications

Growing up in Mexico, I really did not know much about Thanksgiving.  I knew what I saw in the movies – massive dinner, family squabbles, football, and the Macy’s Day Parade.  When I moved to the US for high school, I lived in a dorm full of international students who knew even less than I did about the holiday.  However, at that angst-ridden age, I began to learn what the holiday meant to me—people opening their homes to strangers, sharing a meal, and taking a moment to be grateful for all we have.   

An Evolving Tradition

As the years have progressed, I have had many different variations of this holiday season: a Friendsgiving Potluck, ordering pizza and going to watch a movie, and sitting down to a full turkey meal.  This year will bring another variation to the holiday, as we will have a small family celebration and will virtually include members from our extended family.  The common thread among all of these is that it was always surrounded by my birth or chosen family, lots of food and laughs, and most importantly, allowed me to take a moment to do nothing but spend time together with people who were central to my life.  To me and to so many others, this traditionally American holiday has shifted to take on an evolved meaning—the opportunity to reflect, give, and be grateful. 

Reflecting with my Daughter

This year I think these common themes ring particularly true.  To my fouryearold, who is VERY aware of the holiday activities, the day includes making a handprint turkey, eating an endless assortment of pies, and not having to go to school for a couple of days.  I gently remind her that this season is for spending time with her family and friends (virtually this year!) and thinking about what she is grateful for.  We have been talking about how we have so much to be grateful for, even in a year that has been as challenging as this one.  Last night, she told me her top three things she is grateful for this year include her favorite character, Kwaazi from the Octonauts.   I cannot wait to hear the other two, and I am grateful for a holiday that allows me to do so over an insane amount of pie. 

My daughter, dressed as Kwaazi from the Octonauts