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A Time to be Thankful: It’s the Little Things That Count

by Ashley Salas, Photos: Vanessa Balderas, Model: Ingrid Raga, Makeup Artist: Diane Ruiz, Hair Stylist: Paty Quiroga

Thanksgiving is the official season of gratitude: that old-fashioned, warm and fuzzy out-loud appreciation for our fellow surrounding humans. Although the turkey and stuffing is an added perk to the holiday, it is important to remember all there is to be thankful for. Thinking about it, most of us count our blessings for a day, then pray about them a year from now. I can’t help but question why. Why are we blindsided by our everyday life duties that we forget to breathe for a second and look up at the blue sky and appreciate the heat of the sun hitting our skin on a chilly morning. Why don’t we enjoy the innocent laughter of the two year old in front of us while waiting in line to pay, or the leap of joy when we come home from work and have Bear all over us because she missed us all day that it almost seems that her tail will fall off out of excitement. Why are these things, these simple things under-appreciated? Why do we focus on the one negative thing out of the day rather than the five positive things that happened? Why do we strive for comfort in the big and fancy material things when it can simply be found in the smell of sunflowers and morning coffee. 

Let’s be grateful for what we have. Let’s be mindful of those who have less. Let’s appreciate those who hold a special place in our lives, and make sure that they know it. And let’s think about those who can’t spend the holiday with their loved ones. Thanksgiving reminds us that no matter our differences, we’re still one people, part of something bigger than ourselves.

– Barack Obama

Let’s put things into perspective. It’s 8:30 in the morning and I am sitting on top of the kitchen counter, waiting for mother’s eyes to tell me to hop off as the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is playing on the television mounted on the wall. I drink my chocolate abuelita amazed at the huge balloons floating around New York City. Float after float passes by while I bite into my conchita. Oh, how I wish I was there experiencing the moment of it all. But, there’s a craving smell in the air that captures my attention more. I turn away for a second and watch my mother fix frijolitos with tortillas de harina for breakfast. I cannot not help but smile. I have so much to be thankful for.

I remember when I was younger, haciendo un berrinche estilo Salas throughout the dollar store when my mom would get the Crayons de marca de la tienda. You know, those that don’t color as cool as the original Crayola like the ones mis compañeros tenían. I would go to class a bit embarrassed but quickly learned that regardless, colors still color. I remember growing up in my sisters’ hand-me-downs and seeing my cousins in the latest fashion brands. I never complained. As long as I had clothes to warm me up on a winter afternoon, I was more than okay. 

As a naive child, I didn’t understand gratitude. Luckily for me, my parents never taught my siblings and I to look at high end brands and designer shoes, but rather quality, doing the best with what we’ve got and understanding that cuando las cosas no se pueden, no se pueden. And for that, I’m eternally grateful for. Many don’t get to see the beauty sacrifice and hard work brings you. Many don’t appreciate what they have in front of them, whether it’s a home cooked meal by mother or the opportunity to go to school and graduate with a Bachelor of Arts after coming from a low income family. There’s been so many lives lost these past two years that we all need to cherish our loved ones each day and be thankful for the life that we have been given. 

Today, I am aware of the fact that life is better than what I deserve. Granted, most of the time I don’t usually see it that way because of one bad inconvenience, but the world is full of pain and suffering, hardship and turmoil, disappointment and regret that sometimes we just have to smile even if it’s the hardest thing to do. Or, sometimes we just have to dance it out in the living room, even if we think we have two left feet. So today, I chose to make a list. 

I am thankful for being able to open my eyes this morning and live another day. 

I am thankful for my family’s and I’s health and unity. 

I am thankful for my mother’s childhood rancho stories and the silly remarks she basically makes every hour of the day. 

I am extremely thankful for cameras and the still beautiful memories it captures and leaves behind.

I am thankful for literature and the history it has taught me and the heartbreaks it has caused me.

I am thankful for huapangos, the elotero, tacos al pastor, and all the other beautiful things that make up my mexican heritage.

Lastly, I am thankful for Laredo, for it being the place that weirdly enough, is the only city in the world that can heal my heart. Well, apart from Granada, Spain, but that’s a different story.

Thanksgiving is filled with football games, annual grand parades, family traditions, and lots and lots of good food, but the most important part of it all is who that time is spent with because after all, there is so much to be thankful for. Here’s a challenge for you, every day write down at least one thing that you are grateful for. Seriously, take some time today, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing and come up with a gratitude list. On Thanksgiving day, share it with the people you love. Sometimes a person needs to be reminded that their presence in your life is appreciated. That’s what this holiday is all about. Don’t forget about what’s important in this world, it needs to be reminded. 

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