Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Several weeks ago, even before I broke my wrist, I was dreading Thanksgiving. As the day got closer, I could imagine the empty feeling of being so far from my children and grandchildren, preparing for our meal together, the house deliciously warm with anticipation. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving celebrating with only Jack and me. To stave off the sadness of not being with family or even long-time friends, Jack and I set up a Thanksgiving day party and invited for 6 hew friends to be our guests. Since Mexicans don’t typically celebrate the holiday unless they have ties to the US or have brought back traditions from having lived across the border themselves in the past, they all were eager to accept: Jack’s tutor and mine, both Mexican, and my lovely friend Candida and her husband Jose about whom I’ve written on this blog. Neither Candida nor her husband speak English, but I assured them that there would be enough Spanish speakers at the table to make them comfortable. To the list, we added our friends who own the nouse next to ours, one of whom is from the US, the other originally from France. We made reservations at an outdoor, very casual restaurant owned by a woman raised in the US who serves a traditional North American menu for the holiday. I’d heard it’s a great feast, a good old American style loosen -your- belt-avoid-the-scale-for days kind of Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving morning I woke up feeling better than fine. No depression, no loneliness. Even before I got out of bed I realized the oomph that had been knocked out of me by my fall and broken wrist was back again, just in time to celebrate. I had finished the course of meds the doctor had prescribed and I was due for an early morning appointment at the hospital with my young orthopedist to remove my stitches. Dr. Ramirez is such a lovely man, gentle and personable, who had laid out thoroughly every step of my healing process even before my surgery, and so far, all has come to pass as he promised. Nothing about seeing him feels institutional. When he told us he’s going to join a group of 10 of his past patients who are ex-pats from the US for Thanksgiving dinner, I could understand why they’d want him to be there, and why he’d accept the invitation. He’s a mensch. When we got ready to leave his office I told him, “Tell your mother I said thanks. She did a terrific job.” He laughed and gave me two references for a physical therapist and instructions to continue wearing the brace. I will see him again in two weeks and I’m glad we’ll have one more appointment. I’m not yet ready to tell him goodbye.
The hospital is on a road high above the city. In the taxi going home, San Miguel spread out below us like a cornucopia full of color, history and grace. Harshness doesn’t flourish here. There are no flurescent lights, no neon, no hard rock music to intrude. The people, the climate, the pace of life are gentle and kind. As I have said before, I am so grateful for it all, and happy to have a special day to commemorate gratitutde.
It is time for me to try to give back in new ways to this community. Certainly giving money to causes and to individuals in need is one way, but it is never going to be enough. I was thinking about this as Jack and I sat on our rooftop terrace, wondering what I might do to contribute. when our housekeeper, Alicia, and her 10 -year old daughter, Amelie, appeared. Amelie was holding a notebook and pen and Alicia said her daughter wanted me to teach her English. Ask and ye shall receive. This was the perfect opportunity for me to begin to give something of myself. Amelie is bright, sweet, diligent and shy. Our first lesson was a pleasure and she spoke to me more comfortably as we worked together. There are so many reasons to give thanks for all that I have. Thanksgiving, el Dia de la Acción de Gracias, is a way of being in this world, not just for today. I see it in the faces of the locals all around me every day, and the feeling is contagious.