Every 25th of November, my kababayans in Bagac celebrate the Feast of our patron saint, Sta. Catalina de Alexandria. And just like with this little charming town in Bataan where I grew up, all the parishes all over the Philippines have their respective patron saints whom they honor during their Feast Day.
This cultural and religious tradition is observed with the parishioners adorning the streets with colorful paramit and banderitas, preparing lavish meals for family and friends, going to church for the celebration of the holy mass, joining parades and processions, and going out to the town plaza to watch the singing, dancing or beauty contests, for the cultural or musical show or for the carnival. This Feast Day (or Fiesta, as Filipinos call it) takes place annually as a display of gratitude for the blessings received (usually for a good harvest) during the past year.
In many other countries, the same festivity is also observed. Thanksgiving Day (for USA, Canada, and some other countries), Chung Chiu Moon Festival (for China), Tet Trung Thu (for Vietnam), Succoth (for the Jews), Kwanzaa (for Africa), Pongal (for India), Chusok (for Korea), Erntedankfest (for Germany), Kinro Kansha no Hi (for Japan), Cerelia (for Rome), Dia de Ao de Graas (for Brazil), Homowo (for Ghana), Crop Over Festival (for Barbados), Kadazan Harvest (for Malaysia) – the names, dates and customs for each country may vary, but each is about dedicating a day for gratitude.
Sometimes, I get to thinking though.
Why do we have to wait for that once-a-year chance to show our appreciation and gratitude, when every day, the graces and favors we receive are bountiful? Wouldn’t it be nice to murmur a soft “thank you” every time we realize that we are at the receiving end of God’s, or someone else’s, generosity?
And so, I resolve to make a habit of saying thank you the moment I open my eyes in the morning.
Thank you for the restful night of sleep.
Thank you that I am given another day to live — to see the sunrise that paints the sky with all hues of orange, the drop of dew on the tip of a leaf, and the blooming flowers in the garden surrounded by uninvited bees; to feel the sweet morning air that gently touches my skin; and to hear the merry chirping of the bird perched on our windowsill.
Thank you for the roof over my head, the food on the table, and the clothes on my back.
Thank you that I am healthy and safe, that I have eyes to see the beauty around me, ears to hear the beautiful music playing in the distance, nose to smell the freshly-laundered clothes, lips to smile at a child passing by, and hands to touch the cascading hair of my daughter.
Thank you for the reassuring presence of the people I call family and friends. The love, support, inspiration and collective influences they provide molded me into what I am today.
Thank you for my husband, our children and our home. They are the source of my pride and joy, my security blanket, my refuge and sanctuary, and the very reason of my existence.
Thank you for the child’s laughter, the sight of the old couple holding hands in the park, the little girl giggling at the wagging tail of her puppy, the children playing hide-and-seek , a father braiding the hair of his daughter, a bus full of wide-eyed school kids, and a boy holding on to his mother’s hand.
Thank you for the freedom that I enjoy – the freedom to choose, the freedom to stand up and speak, the freedom to express myself through my preferred art, and the freedom to worship my God.
Thank you for Mother Earth and for everything that comes out of her bosom.
Thank you for the quiet moments when I can hear my own thoughts.
Thank you for the past and its happy memories that I can always look back to, for the future that offers unlimited possibilities, and for the present that deserves embracing and living to the fullest.
Thank you for the blank page of paper (or in today’s age, the blank page of a Word document) that I can fill to my heart’s content with all my random musings, rantings, and thoughts about family, love, parenthood, home and life, personal advocacies, dreams and experiences, observations, opinions and impressions, everyday exploits, confessions, and innermost desires. Writing has always been my passion and has grown to be a most welcome relief.
Thank you for the World Wide Web that connects me to the world, supplies me with a whole gamut of information, and exposes me to inspiring stories that make me believe that there’s still hope for humanity, after all.
Thank you for all the pains and difficulties, heartaches and misfortunes, and challenges and struggles. They often subsequently reveal themselves as blessings in disguise.
Thank you for my Maker and for His constant guidance. He always has my back, or gives it a well-deserved pat or slap, depending on what the situation warrants.
For today and all the days of my life, THANK YOU.