On Thanksgiving, we tend to make a mental list of the things we’re thankful for. To start off, let me list the monumental things I’m thankful for this past year: I got good grades last semester, I went on a dream vacation to El Nido with my family, I saw 20 turtles on my dive in Balicasag, I had some of the best food in Bangkok. I was fortunate enough to travel to Bangkok, Bali, and Singapore this summer. Now let’s not forget the little things too…the bare necessities that tend to be overlooked. So I’m also thankful for having food on the table, a roof over my head, being free of any bad injury or disease (especially when I was traveling by myself).
But more than that, I’m thankful for the people I have around me. Considering I’m living half a world away from my parents, 2 siblings, childhood friends, and extended family, it’s easy to feel lonely most days. It took me a few years (yes, years) to get past feeling homesick, but I have to admit it creeps in once in a while. When I went to church alone this Sunday, the feeling started creeping in.
Growing up in Manila for 14 years, then moving to Vancouver and having lived here for the past 6 years, sometimes I struggle identifying which place is home to me. Is it the place where I grew up and where majority of my family is? Or is it the place I’m currently living in and finding my own path? Which one is “home” for me?
In the past it was hard to pick one, but over the years and thousands of miles going between the two places, I’ve found that home isn’t a place but a feeling.
Home to me is spending three hours at the dinner table with my family. Home is grabbing fro-yo and walking down to Kits Beach with a friend. Home is watching a tv show on my beanbag. Home is going to my Lola’s house on a Sunday. Home is going on a road trip with my friends. Home is watching a Canucks game at a bar. Home is island hopping and scuba diving with my family. Home is hearing mass held by a Filipino priest in Vancouver. Home is having a dance party in the kitchen. Home is pulling an all-nighter with my friends to study for a midterm. Home is lying on a beach. Home tastes like mango shake, adobo, and sinigang. But home also tastes like an iced cappuccino from Tim Hortons and poutine. Heck, it even feels like home when I’m on a plane flying to a new place…as long as I have someone next to me.
So this thanksgiving, I’m most grateful for the people I have in my life. There are only a handful of people that I consider myself close to, but I’m thankful to have those few anyway. They’re the ones who accept me for who I am – off-key singing, awkward dancing and all. The ones who laugh at all my lame jokes (or at least pretend to laugh). Most importantly, the ones who are there on the worst days, the ones who make me feel important, and make me feel loved.
So even though my mom won’t be cooking a turkey in the kitchen, and my dad won’t be watching CNN on the couch, and my sister won’t be reading a book on the beanbag, and my little brother won’t be scrolling through 9gag on his iPad, I’ll still be thankful for the things I do have around me now, and just thankful for having these people in my life.
So thanks to my family for taking me as I am and inspiring me with all you do. And thanks to my friends who have become like family. It feels like home wherever you are.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Count your blessings and be thankful for the things you have. Trust me, there’s more than you think.
(I promise my next post won’t be as sappy.)