The traditional pumpkin pie and roasted turkey have little cultural significance here in Mexico or for the Mexicans with whom I work. But I can’t imagine a better place to celebrate Thanksgiving than here, where I learn every day about thankfulness.
When we pray and speak in the comedor, the migrants give thanks for their lives. Because they could have just as easily died in the desert. They give thanks for the food in front of them. Because some did not eat for days while they were in Border Patrol detention or in the desert. They give thanks for their family. Because they know the pain of separation from their loved ones. They give thanks for the people who serve them. Because they have encountered many who were more likely to abuse them than help them.
I can grow numb to the constant thanks that I receive as I work with the migrants. But sometimes I just stop and let what they say sink in. Let myself be conscious of just how important each piece of light is in a time of darkness.
Thankfulness is a state in which nothing is taking for granted. Every simple blessing is held loosely with the knowledge that it is a gift from God. And that is why thanksgiving is so powerful here on the border.
So I am learning to give thanks for the blessings that surround me. For the privilege to live and work with people so committed to loving God and loving their neighbor. For my parents who would give up a vacation to spend Thanksgiving working with me here. For the opportunity to learn every day from the migrants who accept and love me in my gringaness. For the many people who have donated money, food, clothing, and time to make this service possible. The list goes on for quite some time. In summary, below is a photo of all that I have written down for which I am grateful this semester.
It is a thankfulness that makes one want to give more because all is held so loosely. A gratitude that inspires the migrants to help as much as they can in the comedor whether by washing dishes or wiping tables. A gratitude that fills me with joy when I can give my winter clothing to someone who needs it more – even if it is my high school “J-Fo” swim sweatshirt loaded with sentimental value.
The migrants are teaching me every moment to lose my sense of entitlement and settle into the simple openness of gratitude that allows me to turn and praise God for every moment. And for that lesson I am eternally grateful.