Monday, 10 December 2012
48. Giving Thanks
Thanksgiving came and went without much fanfare in our household last month. Not because we are not thankful for everything we have, but more because as Australians, its not a ‘holiday’ we naturally celebrate. Which is not to say we are not grateful; after all, they don’t call Australia the ‘lucky country’ for nothing.
So, Matt and I just got back from a running event in Cambodia. To be honest, beyond preparing for my run, I had given little thought to precious else. Additionally, I am ashamed to say, my vague knowledge of Cambodia and her besieged history left me ill-prepared for the reality that clawed at my senses – the poverty and the remnants of a civil war that literally hacked apart what was once a thriving empire, and left the country a broken shell. And yet… the people we came across were so gracious, earnest, and for the most part, happy with their lot.
But, the image of the woman who followed our little boat as we toured the Tonle Sap Lake, with the child who lay asleep under the blazing sun on her makeshift boat is forever burned in my memory. As is the one of the woman with the snake-bearing children. Both were petitioning for money. And I could look neither in the eye as I followed our guide’s instructions to deny their requests. “For their own good,” he counseled. But my stomach turned inside of me as I put myself in each woman’s place and considered their reality and that of their family. Of the life that awaited these families who lived in the water village and the limited options they had available to them. And I was awash with guilt at my charmed existence.
But before I drown everyone with my melancholic aria, I should point out the sorrow was mine, not theirs, and quite possibly overly melodramatic on my part. After all, the guilt was mine to bear alone and who was I to poison someone else’s reality with my doom and gloom. In fact, from what I have seen here in Singapore, Cambodia’s future could very much be an ascending star as a multitude of schools and associations here work together and separately to raise funds to build schools and houses for the Khmer nation. Even Faith, my eldest at 13, will be heading there next year to participate in building sturdy weather-proof houses for the Cambodians. And so, I give thanks for the time to come and the promise of hope for this land.
Getting back to giving thanks, I often talk to the girls about how incredibly lucky we are, beyond the superficial and the materialistic, that we have each other, our health and to be able to enjoy the reality that is our’s. Of how it is through pure fortuity we were born unto a country not drowning in warfare and the resulting opportunities that actuality alone presents us with. And I could go on. But instead, I will record my top 10 in my “thanksgiving list”:
1. For the health and safety of my children and husband
2. For the gifts that are my children and my husband in my life
3. For the opportunities we have been blessed with
4. For the kindness shown to us in our lives
5. For the friendships that make our everyday richer
6. For the ability to go running to clear my head
7. For the life I have
8. For the ability to see good even when the view is a little murky
9. For being able to remember there is so much to be grateful for
10. For the freedom to make my own choices
I am grateful.