Thanksgiving, for me, is a time for reflection.
I've never been much of a fan of the turkey, squash and cranberry sauce. I guess you either like that Thanksgiving-style food or you don't. My 7-year-old son loves it!
But, Thanksgiving is really a holiday that allows us all, if only for a day, to stop what we're doing and consider the wonderful people in our lives and the opportunities we have and have had. It's a chance to be truly grateful for our families, our health and our country.
I was lucky enough to meet my husband very young, so, in some ways, we've grown up together. We've been there for each other through many different phases of our lives, and now, we have three beautiful children that mean the world to us. My family is my rock, and I'm thankful, most of all, for them.
Growing up, Thanksgiving was our opportunity to enjoy time with family. We had a lot of family, and we always made sure to see everyone.
My grandmother was a constant presence in our lives. She raised my mother as a single mom in the projects of Manchester, New Hampshire, working as a waitress at the Woolworth counter on Elm Street. Money was tight. Really tight. They often couldn't afford food. But, my maternal grandmother was a force. She pushed my mom in school because she knew my mother's opportunity out of the projects, and out of poverty, was through education.
My father grew up as one of eight in a big Irish Catholic family. His Dad worked at the Navy Yard and then, as a night watchman for the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He worked 100 hours a week and made 50-cents-an-hour. With eight kids and only $50 a week to get by on, my Father and his family relied on the Church for assistance.
My father and his siblings loved telling us how hard they had it with no car, no phone, little food, and, often no shoes. I suspect because it was a strong reminder for them on how far they had come.
My reality was different than that of my parents. I never had to worry about food or clothing as a child, but, nonetheless, hearing those stories at Thanksgiving had an impact. Knowing how my grandparents and parents had overcome so much adversity, and poverty, to achieve the American Dream made me incredibly thankful for all they had done to give my generation such a wonderful life.
My family is living proof that America affords opportunities like nowhere else, and, with hard work and a positive outlook, anything is possible.
This Thanksgiving, as my parents, my sister and her husband, my husband James and our three children will sit down to dinner. I want to pass down the tradition of being thankful for our loved ones and all the sacrifices others have made for us and being thankful for a country that empowers people to achieve their dreams.