On being thankful

24 Nov

being thankful, lego turkey

gurusql @Flickr

So, the year is coming to ta close and it’s that time again. The time when most Americans are getting ready for some serious turkey eating, and hopefully saying or at least thinking about what they are thankful for.   When I was younger I had a real problem with Thanksgiving because I believed it was somehow celebrating the genocide of Native Americans and the mass killing of thousands upon thousands of turkeys; whose lives were taken and never really appreciated. Yes, I was full of adolescent angst! Surprise! Surprise! Although many of those feelings still linger, as I got older I actually did a little research on the topic at hand and found that holidays and their customs can evolve. For example, people decorating a tree on Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Christ and really more to do with the winter solstice which the pagans brought with them when they converted to Christianity. Oops, did I say that out loud? Don’t hate me!

In fact, the real first “American” Thanksgiving was not even celebrated at Plymouth Rock or by the pilgrims but in Virginia. That said, there are definitely parts of Thanksgiving I still take issue with but one that I can appreciate is “giving thanks”. This year I have a lot to be thankful for, and it resonates with me even more now as the political and economic situation in America reflects that many people do not have as much to be grateful for as I do.

and so without further ado…….

1) Amazing people in my life

I know! I know! It’s the most obvious one that nearly everyone says but it’s true,dammit! The people in your life influence you so much many times in ways we might not even realize. I know that I have always been the happiest when I had good people around me no matter what was going on in my life.

2) Being a native English speaker

There are those out there that act like speaking perfect English is some kind of magic trick and it’s not. How quickly some forget (or maybe they never knew) that they did nothing extraordinary to learn English other than develop like a normal child would. They just happened to be doing so in a place where English was the main language.  However, it is the thing that enabled me to leave New York, leave the US, and go pretty much wherever I wanted. Not just because I could be a teacher but because so damn many people can speak English, even if it’s only a few words. I’ve been able to make friends from all over the place because we shared this common language – even if it was their second language. Chinese and Spanish may have more native speakers but English is still the most widely spoken language in the world (thank you imperialism) and the most used on the internet – which is where most of us live now anyway –  in good old internet land.

Being an ESL teacher, I’ve also have seen first hand the struggles that kids and adults go through to learn what is probably the biggest gang bang of a language that mankind has ever seen. There is even some Chinese in English. ”Long time no see” Think about it for a minute. Does that sentence sound like any other western expression you have ever heard? If it does then the expression probably isn’t actually western at all. It happens! I first read about this while living in Taiwan and the second I did, it seemed so obvious that it could never have come from a western culture. If you know anything about the Chinese language it makes perfect sense. English is confusing, contradictory and many times just plain nonsense. My heart goes out to those who struggle with the English language, because they have more patience than I could ever have.

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.                                                                                                                                                                                                    -James Nicoll

3) An American passport – There are so many things that keep people from leaving their familiar surroundings of home and going out into the world. For some they are all in their head, and for others they are very real. Most westerners don’t consider this fact as we hop from place to place getting 30 days here and 6 months there without having to fill out anything more than one of those little landing slips.  I remember a friend of mine with a Chinese passport getting denied a visa into Europe for basically no reason. She was doing an RTW trip and it  messed up a huge part of her journey,  while leaving her devastated.

While living in Taiwan I had both colleagues and students whose parents had made the decision to have their children born in the US, Canada or even Hong Kong because of the better options it would give their children later in life.  It’s sad that this is the current political situation in Taiwan, and it doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. However, it’s stories like that, that make me grateful for my little blue book.

dak galbi, on being thankful

Wikimedia Commons

4) Dak Galbi w/cheese  – Ok don’t laugh or roll your eyes but I seriously love Dak Galbi. Spicy deliciousness grilled before my eyes,mixed with veggies and then topped with cheese. You don’t know how many times I’ve been so excited to just cross the street and pop into my local Dak Galbi place which is always packed  (because its delicious duh!).  When I go home I will miss it!


5) My job - Granted some days I really don’t want to be here but while my friends back home struggle to keep their heads above water I’m here relaxing in my cushy office – where I get to write just about as much as I want to. Oh yeah and the money ain’t bad either!


There are so many things for me to be grateful about but instead of just going on and on I’m going to share with you some of what my students said they were grateful for. Oh and yes I made each one of them stand up and tell the entire class – I’m such a meanie!

1) Being exempt from military service due to poor eyesight (all Korean boys must join the army sometime before they turn 30)

2) My iPad (lol!)

3) My grandmother (awwww)

4) My girlfriend (brownie points!)

5) My parents (good kid) 


So, what are you grateful for this year??? Tell us in the comments below.

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4 Responses to “On being thankful”

  1. Drew November 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I like it I have been in Israel for 5 years and sometimes I forget where I came from Your piece reminded me of all the things I should be thankful of as an American, and I thank you!

    • admin November 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

      Glad you like it!

  2. Loren November 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    I’m thankful that I’m not in America because I really hate turkey.

    • admin November 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

      OMG Loren really? lol

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