November 25, 2011


Over the years we, as a family, have experienced some…how can I phrase it?... some interesting Thanksgivings. Which begs the question, what is a traditional Thanksgiving? Even over the past few years alone Thanksgiving memories vary vastly; some with laughter, some with tears, some sullen and sad, others full of joy.

This year, again, shaped up to be another uniquely memorable Thanksgiving for the whole family. Even for Lady Hiva and I, it was the first Thanksgiving for us outside of the United States without other family here with us. Friends, who also are missing their far away families, fill in the holes and we become a patchwork quilt version of a family.

As Lady and I prepared the Thanksgiving dinner I realized that as a family no matter how far away we are from each other, or how unique the season is, there are some things about the Holiday that never change. Some unchangeable parts are physical and others emotional, either way these simple pieces of life remind us we are loved.

First of all is the fact that Thanksgiving is about FAMILY. No matter what weirdness, disjointedness, sadness, joy, or success the family has gone through each year, we experience it together. That same weird, disjointed and loving family is always there with open arms and a soothing shoulder to cry on. It is amazing how life works, at any given moment someone in the family unit is struggling and needs to be lifted. Later, down the road, they are the ones doing the lifting for another.

One part of being in a foreign country and trying to celebrate a “Traditional” Thanksgiving means you have to be creative. Hiva and I made a list of things we wanted to have on the table when dinner time came. It was an odd collection of favorite family recipes from both our families. Rolls like Aunt Vyonne and Madre bake, Pecan Pie ala mode, Grandma Ginger’s orange slush, Moana’s blueberry cheesecake pie, Aunt Melanie styled candied yams, and of course stuffing. In order to get all of the ingredients we had to shop in 6 different stores all over metro Manila. Hiva’s favorite find was a package of Western Family Marshmallows! (she said the local version does not quite make the grade)

Each one of these dishes brought back a flood of memories for me—all of which reminded me that we are LOVED. Throughout the day Family members had a place at our table and in our hearts. It was comforting to know that all those family members we miss all over the world are drinking slush and eating blueberry cheesecake pie too...because you wouldn’t do it any other way on Thanksgiving.

As we baked the turkey I could not help but remember the first time Hiva and I cooked a turkey together. We were poor-college-student-newlyweds and we could not afford a turkey but Hiva’s brother had given us his turkey that work had given him for a holiday bonus. We were so thankful for that turkey; it fed us for a week straight.

Most of all Thanksgiving is about being THANKFUL. Having a heart of GRATITUDE. There are so many reasons I can think of why I should be thankful. Heavenly Father has truly blessed Lady Hiva and I continually. I have tried to keep a list of some of these blessings each day with the Gratitude Challenge and it has been a humbling experience to focus on all that I DO have not on what I think I lack. It is the little, most often non-monetary, things that mean the most to me. Sadly, those are the things I take for granted the easiest too. For example, being lucky enough to marry my best friend who is willing to help me become a better person even when it would be easy to just see all my faults (I do have many); Or the fact that if I need a hug, a call, or a kind word there are family members who would do anything to provide those without hesitation.

As Josh Groban says in his song, Thankful “There is so much to be thankful for.” So in light of all the unique Thanksgivings we all experience, I would challenge us all to look around the effective table of our lives and see who is sitting with us that needs to know that we are thankful for them being part of our lives and to know that we love them; Because we never know, with the fast pace that life changes, if they will be sitting with us next year. I am thankful for the people in my life that have let me know that I am loved, so that even when I am doing small things like drinking slush I think of them and I am filled with gratitude for their love in my life.

Here is the link to Josh Groban's Thankful if you want a 'feel good' song to listen to:


  1. Can I have your recipe for the blueberry cheesecake pie? It looks so good!

  2. Yay for a reason to remember what's really important. I love Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing yours. :)

  3. Nice cooking Kuya Dustin! Happy thanks giving