On Thankfulness

Living in India teaches you many things – but one of its lessons, whether you’re ready for it or not, is about being thankful. In recognition of the Thanksgiving season being upon us, and Canadian Thanksgiving having passed whilst we have American Thanksgiving next month, I wanted to do a post on thankfulness.

Adam and I have realized how thankful we are for our families. Even though we may not always get along, our families have been amazingly generous to us. Flying us home, sending packages, buying us things we need (or they think we need, and end up realizing they were right!) – we have friends here at Woodstock who are frankly jealous of the generosity we are shown.

We have also become very thankful, in a number of ways, for the unique perspectives we now have on life, living where we do. A few nights ago, Adam commented on how much of a relief it is to be in India, where the “needs” for raising a child are so few: clothing? Check. Food? Okay. Place to sleep? With the adults. Diapers? Done. And… that’s it. There is no “must-have” list full of swings and wipe warmers and bottle warmers and sanitizers and and and and and and. There are very few things we wish we had more of, for Asha – and in some cases, we rather wish we had fewer of others! It is easier to raise her, here, without the flinging of princess paraphernalia and the thousand-and-one-must-have-items on any checklist. We’re thankful for the peace of mind we have that we are not wrapped up in worries about food recalls, whooping cough, or whether this is the right toy or not. We have different concerns – but we’re thankful that ours are simpler, and fewer.

We are thankful for our friends – both near and far – and the generosity that they, too, show us, whether it’s chatting at odd hours or when they visit or when we visit them. Our friends, like our family, are exemplary pieces of humanity. We’ve realized the friend who are fair-weather and the ones who are here through thick and thin, and it’s worth noting who has still been in touch for the nearly four full years we’ve been away.

We are thankful for how well-off we are in comparison to many. Yes, when we go back west, our saved money vanishes in two blinks. But here, we can buy fabric for clothes or get three-hundred-dollar suits made for a third the price, and not compromising on quality. What is still small-ish change to us is a month’s wages, perhaps, for an ayah; we can afford to have things drycleaned instead of washing them carefully by hand. We have a house to live in, instead of a shack or a lean-to made of tarps; we will have heat in the winter, we have food enough, clean filtered water, almost-always securely shut windows and doors (curse you, monsoon swelling and winter shrinking!). When we go back West and hear pithy complaints about a dress being the wrong colour, or a cake being dropped, or a train running late – they seem silly, and petty, when compared with the fact that we walk past gypsies (not Romani) who live in homes made of tarps and garbage bags and plastic sheeting. And then we are thankful that those petty complaints are not ours to deal with!

India has taught us many, many things; an increased understanding of what it means to be thankful is only one of them.

We are, however, not going to be thankful for the giant spiders. Not gonna happen.

2 Comments on “On Thankfulness

    • We’re still at WS and will be here through June 2016 (at least for now! Who knows if it will extend further). He teaches English & math (though currently only English) in the senior school.

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