Yesterday I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family here in New York City. It was just the four of us- mom, two brothers, and I- and we enjoyed a relatively low-key dinner. It was all very nice and pleasant though that did not lessen the pain of my father not being there.
You see, my dad passed away over a year ago from a sudden but fatal heart attack. It has difficult moving on day-by-day since we were such a close-knit family. Not a day goes by when we don’t think of him even though we were not on the best of terms when he died. For him Thanksgiving was the best of the day of the year since it represented the pinnacle of family unity and togetherness. It was a day where he would return home from work physically tired and spent but with a spirit of joy and bliss at being in the company of his loved ones. He would sit beaming with pride at the head of the table satisfied in the knowledge that we were enjoying a bountiful meal that he helped prepare the weekend before Thanksgiving. Sometimes he would take us out after the meal - full bellies and all- to gaze and admire at the holiday decorations around the neighborhood. It would always be an unforgettable night.
In his absence, Thanksgiving has taken a changed meaning for my family. More than anything it represents the gratitude that we have for having known him and for remembering all the positive things he represented. He was a very caring man who sacrificed a lot in his life-such as giving up a cushy lifestyle in Colombia to move to the U.S. in 1972- to give his future progeny a better living. He faced far too many obstacles but he would always overcome them with hard work and determination. I learned so much from him and still do today as my family continues to be as close and unified as he envisioned us to be. In the wake of his passing my mother, brothers, and I have taken things in baby steps with the hope and faith of a brighter future. Perhaps in the future I will raise my own family and then I should aspire to be half the man he was in my lifetime.
For all that I am eternally grateful and to me that is what Thanksgiving is all about.