Giving Thanks

The online world mirrors the real world in terms of the commercial push between now and the holidays.

And many of the outdoor blogs are similar.

There are articles published for the annual push to stuff your stocking with knick knacks.  The tree will have packages from REI. People of different cultural or religious persuasions will have their stuff near a menorah or perhaps a different set of candles.

All comes down one theme: A holiday to start the shopping season.

But I am still a traditional person in some many ways.

I don’t see Thanksgiving as the time to push “stuff”.

It may be a cliche’, but it is a time for me to be thankful for what is in my life.

In the recent past it has been a time to spend an extended weekend in the outdoors.  I’d be in the desert, under a pristine night sky and feeling thankful that a life has been crafted where I can spend most of my free time outside.

Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon. Thanksgiving 2015.
Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon. Thanksgiving 2015.

In the  further past it was always my favorite holiday.

There was no theme but a good meal with family.

Thanksgiving day was  spent with our paternal grandparents. The Italian-American Thanksgiving feast I grew up with is firmly entrenched in my memory. There was the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes of course.  But, I kid you not, there was essentially another meal at the main meal: Stuffed shells with ricotta cheese was had. I fondly remember the stuffed artichokes.  A hearty bowl of “Italian wedding soup” was enjoyed at the start of it all. And the stuffing for the turkey reflected our Mediterranean roots with its pine nuts and raisins.

magnanti-dinner
My brothers and I with Grandma Magnanti. About 1980.

The evening was spent with Mom’s side of the family.  With a total of sixteen grandchildren in addition to all the adults, only a buffet style meal could be had feasibly. Our maternal grandmother was the matriarch and was happiest when all her grandchildren were together.  The cousins grew up close both in proximity and being a part each other’s lives.  We saw each other frequently.

cousins
My aunt and my mother had three boys each. Only eight years separates the six of us total. At our grandmother’s funeral in 2011.
cousins2
My brother and our cousin are now in the same Air Force unit together.  Our cousin Daniel was in the same unit for a bit, too!

The cultural heritage and the large family added a richness to the childhood that I am thankful for in my adult life.

guarcino
Exploring my roots in Guarcino, My great-grandfather was born at this house.

My on-call rotation is up this week. I will be spending Thanksgiving a bit more traditionally with friends in 2016. I am still thankful as recent events have shown how supportive of a friends and family network is in place at this moment of my life.  And though the work has been extremely busy recently, I have a terrific boss (no, seriously) who has been flexible.  My co-workers are top-notch as well. Next week I’ll be spending four days somewhere TBD. A well deserved solo trip somewhere remote and beautiful is on tap.

I’m sure I’ll find somewhere to go… 😉

And I am thankful for the opportunities the current generation of my family have available. Collectively we’ve all done good and can be proud of what was accomplished.  Among all of us, we have gone into engineering, finance, medical, education and legal as just some examples. Oh and one odd IT guy. Not bad at all.

I am thankful on a personal level for the outdoors being a part of my life.  I live in a place that lets me have a career to pay the bills but also being able to get outside, if not as much as I’d like, more than most.

So I don’t have a gift guide to suggest this weekend.

Just thankful for family, friends, a rich cultural heritage, the state of my current life and how I am able to make the outdoors a large part of it.

Perhaps not as interesting as the latest tent, stove or down jacket.

But far more important in the long run.

At least to me.

Picture: Something important.
Pictured: Something important.

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