Thanksgiving Day, not a Turkey Day

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As I See It

By ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

I know Thanksgiving Day is a week past now, but I will be remiss in my job as a columnist if I will not devote a space for this very important holiday. So here we are folks!

While turkey is prepared in all gatherings during Thanksgiving Day, it is not turkey day, but a Thanksgiving Day, a day to thank God for all the blessings He did to us!

This was emphasized by Pastor Smith of the Liberty Baptist Church located at King Road, San Jose, CA during its Thanksgiving Feast last Sunday, November 18, 2018, as the church people savor the sumptuous turkey dinner prepared for them. My niece Leonor Jugend Estioko Castillo (with her husband Simo) invited my wife Delia and I to attend said gathering and celebrate with them on Thanksgiving Day.

To amplify his point, he took his bible and read Luke chapter 17, Verse 11 where 10 lepers called out Jesus Christ, who was walking on the street, to cleanse them. Lepers are suffering from a dreadful decease called leprosy, otherwise known as walking dead or dead men walking, and are outcast of society. Jesus cleansed them, cured them and freed them from their dreadful decease… but only one, a Samaritan, came back and thanked Jesus for healing him. The rest of the nine men who were likewise cleansed didn’t come back and didn’t thank Jesus, a very ungrateful gesture on their part.

Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings we received, big or small. Pastor Smith said we need to count our blessings one by one… then he sang the biblical verse: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed; when you are discouraged thinking all is lost; Count your many blessings – name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done”.

Again, let us not forget that Thanksgiving is not about great food… Thanksgiving is about our Great God! I do believe that everything we have comes from the Lord, so we need to be thankful of Him for giving us blessings of life, good relationships, for giving us work, for our children, for good health, and many more. “If we count our blessings, we will be amazed there’s a lot of them,” Pastor Smith said.

Thank you is a magic word that opens a lot of avenues and opportunities in life… in fact, even at work. Let’s not forget to thank the Lord and be grateful to Him. It makes us feel better, better witnesses, more composed, and improves our relationships with each other (Psalms).

Last Thursday, November 22, 2018 Eric Aquino and wife Tiffany with their daughter Jae Jae, invited us to celebrate with them on Thanksgiving Day at their home in Hayward, CA.

They are family friends and used to be our neighbors in Milpitas. They are blessed and wanted to celebrate their blessings with us and close relatives on Thanksgiving Day.

San Jose Job Corps Center (SJJC) likewise celebrated Thanksgiving Day with its staff on Wednesday, November 21 at the Center’s Gymnasium at its 11-acre campus. The gathering was coordinated by the Center’s Incentive Committee composed of George Varghese, Diana Custodio, Johnson Varghese, Francisco Preciado, Howard Lieu, Jacqueline Curiale, Huishan Kuang, Jean Martinez, Sneha Rao, Terry Goldman, Dena Toney, Celestina Silva, Ed Ruiz, Thiem Tien, Leighton Rodriguez, Mary Jane McGuire, Phara Meng, and Rica Medrano. Center Director Leslie Gilroy and Deputy Center Director Chris Allen graced the occasion.

Job Corps is a federal program for young marginalized at-risk adults ages 16 to 24, giving them chance to earn their high school diploma, get their GED certificate, and acquire their trade skills to prepare them to be useful members of society. San Jose Job Corps (SJJC) is one of 125 Job Corps Centers all over the country under the Department of Labor (DOL).

It is a surprise for us immigrants, especially FilAms, to know that Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863, considering that we don’t celebrate it in the Philippines. There were even reports that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas in 1598 and another early event was celebrated in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. As immigrants, we are glad to celebrate thanksgiving with our newly-acquired friends from America.

As to the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day, many people trace it to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. We were informed later that their first true thanksgiving was held in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgiving took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast, at that time. Lately, however, it became a thanksgiving feast to thank the Lord for all the blessings we received from Him.

The first national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by George Washington, the first president of the United States, in 1789. It is a national holiday and this year, we had a 4-day weekend this week since Thursday and Friday were declared holidays in observance of Thanksgiving Day.

Let’s look back and try to remember things we need to be thankful of… big or small. Listing them one by one and be thankful of them and reciting them before taking a sumptuous meal on Thanksgiving Day, will make us feel better. Of course, this is one way of being grateful to the Lord who gave us the opportunity to earn and receive these blessings. Let’s be the One in the bible who came back and thanked Jesus and not be the Nine who were very ungrateful they didn’t even thank Jesus after being cleansed and freed from their deadly decease.

My family celebrated Thanksgiving in our Milpitas home with my wife Delia, and children May, Jayson and Paul. My wife cooked her favorite lumpia and other native Filipino delicacies in addition to Jollibee orders of chicken and spaghetti. Simultaneously, my children outside our household celebrated in their respective homes in various locations with my eldest child Maria Edelgrace (Gigi) and husband Eric celebrating in Sydney, Australia; John Edward (Jojo) and wife Alvi with their children Kayla and Bibay in Jacksonville, Florida; and Rose (Tweety) and husband Jonathan in Mililani, Hawaii.

To Yvonne San Juan Sera, President, The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) and officers and members, Happy Thanksgiving Day. Also, a very Happy Thanksgiving Day to re-elected Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran and the new members of the Milpitas City Council; Pangasinan Brotherhood-USA President Ferdinand Soriano, Jr. and to the officers and members of PB-USA; President Conrad del Castillo, officers and members of The Original Urdanetanians (TOU); TGU-Urdaneta led by Ramil San Juan; the organizing committee chair Dr. Belinda San Juan of the first-ever multiple high school reunion, Urdaneta City and members slated for February 1-3, 2019; UCHS Batch ’65 led by its president Minda Ventenilla Tomines; the editorial staff of FilAm Star led by VP for Operations and Marketing Edwina Aniag; the editorial staff of Hawaii Filipino Chronicle led by Publisher-Managing Editor Chona A. Montesines-Sobido; and the alumni-members of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Hawaii led by its president Jun Gappe.

To all the jubilations and attendees of the annual grand homecoming of my high school the Urdaneta Community High School (UCHS, (now Urdaneta National High School), Happy Thanksgiving to my school mates.

Belated Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!

(For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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