Island Soul City Dreams

I love New York, but my heart has a Caribbean beat. It pulsates to the traditions of my people. Attuned to the rhythms of this City, I stay West Indian to the bone. I reflect. I analyze. I speak my mind. ~ I Keep it Irie ~

Surviving Thanksgiving Alone

An African American family celebrating Thanksgiving. Courtesy Corbis Images

It’s challenging when drowning in depression to rise above it and focus on reasons to be thankful. This is my ninth consecutive Thanksgiving in the US, although 10 in total and one would figure by now I’d be over the sadness that comes with spending such holidays by myself. I’d always envisioned that if by this age I were still living here, I’d be happily married with a family of my own and finally truly celebrating Thanksgiving. But as the sun sets on another Thanksgiving Day, I’m like McCaulay Culkin in that 1990 top draw comedy, “Home Alone” except there’s no laughter being derived from within my four walls – only tears. Living in a foreign country away from all my relatives and closest friends is especially felt on days like today.

To be fair, I’ve actually had two, maybe three enjoyable Thanksgiving days over the years, with 2011 standing out most after getting a surprise dinner invitation on the actual day to join a friend and her family. Hers was a much appreciated  offer since I’d endured the previous year without any.  I did, however, have a back up plan as you can watch here: My Solo Thanksgiving Dinner. This time around, as the fourth Thursday in November drew closer, I told myself that whether or not anyone remembered me, I was going to make the best of my day and make sure I enjoyed it. I challenged myself to focus on all I have and not what is missing from my life. I reflected on all I’d accomplished thus far this year, reviewing the index card on which I’d written down “2012 Goals” on Jan. 1 and noted with pride that most of them had been checked off. I reasoned that those goals left unchecked could still materialize by year-end – well except for finding the husband – so I ought to just be thankful for my overall progress.

I thought of the moments over these few months when I most needed help and how my friends both here in the US and back in Barbados came through for me. I recall how when I least expected it, when I didn’t think I could survive another day being jobless, how an awesome opportunity in my field, albeit freelance came my way. So I was able to keep the roof over my head, keep my cupboards stocked and on that tragic occasion of losing my favorite uncle back in Barbados, I was able to contribute to the fees for his burial. I consider how on the days when my faith is truly tested that I’m blessed to have my mother, to be able to call overseas and have her pray for and with me over the phone, reminding me that miracles do happen. Equally reliable are my best friends back home – always with the right words of encouragement. Like today, when three quarters of the day had gone by and no one had called, texted or even emailed me to say, “Happy Thanksgiving” or to send an invitation my way. I complained to Shawn in Barbados via WhatsApp that I hate holidays in the US and how it seemed like all my friends here had forgotten about me. His response warmed my heart: “Well happy Thanksgiving babe. You know you are loved.”

There’s a gospel ballad that often plays in my head at times like this or when I’m faced with major challenges. It reminds me to give God thanks no matter my circumstance. Sure, this is easier said than done and today has been the consummate test of that. The song, “Praise Is What I Do” by Shekinah Glory Ministry goes in part:

I vow to praise You
Through the good and the bad.
I’ll praise You,
Whether happy or sad.
I’ll praise You
In all that I go through,
Because praise is what I do,
Cause I owe it all to You.

Indeed, I have much for which to be thankful: a loving and devoted family; loyal friends; being able to work in the field I love; talents in the areas about which I’m most passionate; living in the land of opportunity, in one of the most amazing cities in the world; and a faithful God whose “morning by morning new mercies I see” gave me the breath to face this day. So although my Thanksgiving Day has not been filled with a table bountifully laden with food and being surrounded by the love and company of family and close friends, I can still celebrate. I can celebrate life, life and all the hopes it holds – for that, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

~ I Keep It Irie ~

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