Seriously though, I love Thanksgiving, and not just because I love food. Although that certainly helps. I think it has a wonderful message that everyone, rich or poor, young or old, should meditate on: gratitude. In my drama class I read that gratitude is the most important source of happiness, and I truly believe that.
There is a saying that we should be thankful because there are people who do not have food, clean water, shelter, or security. I agree with that; we truly are fortunate and we take that for granted. However, those impoverished countries are not our reality, and psychologists say that minimizing the importance of our problems by comparing them to other peoples' is actually very unhealthy. Gratitude is not about making ourselves feel guilty because we have more than other people do; it means appreciating tangible elements in our lives, even if they are small and easily forgotten.
Sometimes what makes life wonderful is the music of your favorite artist; inhaling steam as hot shower water massages your shoulders; or eating homemade soup and rustic rosemary bread while talking to your best friend. I want to notice these moments, and I want to create more of them for myself and others.
So, what do I have to be thankful for? In the last two months I have learned how much I take for granted and that I have all I need to be happy. Though I love Germany and am having a wonderful time with new friends and ideas, I will admit the transition was sometimes difficult. However, I am glad I had those difficulties because they have given me a new perspective on my life here as well as in America.
So, I guess that is the first thing I am thankful for: the challenges I have faced and grown from. I think this might turn into a list...
What I am Thankful for
1. The challenges I have grown from.
Let's face it: people who have overcome challenges tend to be more interesting...
2. My friends and family.
Moving to a new country alone makes you realize that the only person who will always be with you is you. Therefore, you must treasure the people in your life. Try to give them more than you receive, otherwise they can (and should) ditch you. Good, meaningful, lasting relationships are not 50-50 bargains, rather, they are 60-40; you give 60% and receive 40%. That goes for them as well. It is not enough to tell someone you appreciate them, give them a reason to appreciate you as well.
This is something that I am personally trying to work on. I'm not a good example of it...yet. I will be though.
3. My education.
I don't actually know what I am going to do with my life, but I do know that I am intelligent and well educated. I have strong background in art, acting, music, literature, and writing. Uses for these skills keep randomly appearing, from painting thank you cards to helping a German girl write a cover letter for a job application. At this point in my education, I feel that I will be prepared and qualified for whatever career I do choose to pursue.
I have come to appreciate Fort Hays State University more as well. The campus is actually kind of beautiful, and the classrooms are equipped with current, user-friendly technology. Although, I will say the food at the Mensa is way cheaper and tastier than any FHSU food. Step it up Fort Hays!
I have had so many opportunities in my life. I have had the chance to take classes in almost everything I have been interested in, which is something that many people don't have. In addition, I'm studying in Germany, and I always hear Americans say, "Oh I wish I had studied abroad." I am incredibly lucky that this trip is affordable and I am around great people.
I also am getting the opportunity to study Aikido with a man who studied with the founder of Aikido. Oh my gosh that dojo is amazing. I love it. I can already feel my ukemi (rolls and falls) improving. Seriously, this dojo has the best ukemi I've ever seen. Ukemi has always been the hardest part of aikido for me, so getting to train here for eight months is such an incredible opportunity. In addition, almost everyone there is a black-belt.
5. My Thanksgiving dinner with Max and Brandon
After aikido on Thursday, I went out to dinner with Max and Brandon, who is my sensei in Hays. It's goose season in Germany, so we all had goose instead of turkey, which I am completely fine with. I like it better anyway. We all had an amazing dinners each consisting of a goose leg, rot kohl (red cabbage), baked apple with a berry relish (baked "oh my god this is so good" covered with "I could stick my entire face in a vat of this stuff"), Kartoffelkloesse (a dumpling the size of a baseball made of potato four and regular flour--I will need to learn how to make these), covered in a gravy. Uhh, yes sir. Very good, very traditional.
Next Thursday I am going to have a Thanksgiving dinner with my friend Burchin. She spent a year in the US in high school, and she loves Thanksgiving. Especially pumpkin pie. We were supposed to have it on Thanksgiving, but she had to go see Hamlet (in German) for a class. That's alright though; I think I came out ahead with this one.
I'm so glad I didn't have to spend Thanksgiving alone. Although no matter what I would have had company. I would have just invited Stephen Colbert over!
(Pay no mind to the weird commercial at the beginning of the video. I just always put them on mute.)
PS, I have a recipe coming up for you all!