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wilfrido david
wilfrido david THANKSGIVING IS a red-letter day in the American calendar. It is a day much looked forward to, more than Christmas and New Year's Day, or maybe even your wedding day, or your mother-in-law's forthcoming yearly visit.

I have had the pleasure of being invited to a Thanksgiving party, in which even the poorest try to celebrate in the traditional way. The table is laden with simple fare, the turkey being the pièce de résistance, with its delicious bread filling and gravy, candied yams and pumpkin pie. It is a far cry from the way we celebrate our town fiestas where there is food galore. But it is made more meaningful because it is a time for family reunions—the family from out of state make it a point to visit even if they have to drive or fly thousands of miles and are welcomed at the door by Ma and Pa or the grandparents. It culminates with the gathering around the dinner table to enact thanksgiving. Oddly though, there are hardly any before-meal prayers anymore, the thanksgivers just go right down to tackling the turkey. Come to think of it, Thanksgiving Day is not unlike the way Pinoys have to be with family on all Saints' Day.

I am often asked if we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines, and for that matter, Christmas and New Year the same way Americans do! For the most part, I refrain from elaborating at how Filipinos celebrate almost everything—all we need is an excuse. Except for Thanksgiving, we celebrate for the same reasons they do, but more often than not, whenever it strikes our fancy—we celebrate for the heck of it. Birthdays, Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day, a job promotion, a stroke of good luck, wedding anniversaries, the fourtieth day of a loved one's demise and exactly a year after (babang luksa ), or the baby's teething and the first time he is able to rest on his stomach (pagdapa), the first time he crawls and the first time he walks—just about almost anything you would find as an excuse to prepare something and invite friends over. I was almost tempted to say that Pinoys are basically party animals. They love gatherings of any sort, they love the sound of clinking forks and spoons, and the ubiquitous leche flan at the end. San Miguel Brewery wouldn't be where it is now without the Pinoy's penchant for celebrating. And how about the party fare that we bring over to the panteon or graveside of a dearly departed and the drinking that follows! Is there anything more gross than that?

Generally, in the Philippines, everyday is Thanksgiving Day. The poor slum dweller and the average wage earner give thanks for the day's blessings—food on the table, good health, children in school, bills paid, good relations with the neighbors and in-laws, a disaster-free day, and a little more. They don't have to designate a special day for Thanksgiving, because it comes quite naturally.

Out here, Thanksgiving is also the day that turkeys "discuss" with rightful indignation, cackling endlessly as the third Thursday of November approaches. The day they hatch, they are pampered and fattened, awaiting the big day like convicts on death row. Aren't you glad that the worst thing that could happen to you is being called a turkey by your friends instead of being a real turkey?

The airports brim with outgoing flights, all roads lead to homecoming destinations (despite gas prices), homes alive with eager anticipation, and, sadly, turkeys cursing tradition as they cook in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving.

[About the author. Wilfrido David first retired as Computer-Analyst from the Ayala Group of Companies. He immigrated to the US in 1985, worked there for another 25 years in the Medical Field (Medical Lab Tech), until he retired for the second time. Sometime ago, he was involved with FAANM (Filipino-American Association of New Mexico) as correspondent-contributor-writer-editor, publisher—all rolled into one. He says about that stint, "I ran out of energy, patience, and money but kept on with my duties until the next set of association officers were voted in." The earliest writing he did was for his high school paper in Holy Angel University. His present writing derives from the perspective of a Filipino expat in the US who faithfully keeps up with what's happening in the home country, as gleaned from his Filipino channels on DirecTV, aside from CNN and HLN.]

-Posted: 10:24 AM 11/24/2009 | More of this author on eK!