This thanksgiving I was out of sorts, I hadn’t any typical or even standard clues suggesting its approaching arrival. There was no fall leaves changing colors, no football games to watch, no apple cider to drink, no freshly baked apple pie to eat, no end of the season bonfire to attend, no cold nights to snuggle under a blanket, not even a single snowflake to help mentally prepare me.
I have experienced four distinct seasons my entire life, and now the only four seasons that I can think of experiencing this year have been a combination of hot, humid, rainy, and sweltering.
It is sad to say, but Thanksgiving just came and went, without much anticipation. There was no day off of work, as I do not have a job. There were no other Americans to celebrate with as we have literally met less than seven this entire year of traveling. There was no family get together to attend, as we were a world away. There was no home cooked turkey feast, as we do not have a home nor a turkey.
There were no typical traditions done this year by the Andersons. No, this Thanksgiving day was different.
It wasn’t until after our Thanksgiving day started, as we toured around the killing fields and the genocide museum in Phenom Pehn, Cambodia, that I started giving my thanks.
I am so thankful to not have lived or gone through something as horrible as the genocide in Cambodia, under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, that tortured and killed a third of the country’s population.
I am thankful for our American freedoms, something I now realize that I have always taken for granted. I am thankful for the right of personal choice in almost every aspect of life, from my beliefs to my education to even my career.
I am thankful to be alive, for my husband, especially on this crazy adventure, and for my large perfectly chaotic family and friend support group.
I am very thankful for all our technology: steripen to clean our water, GPS to find our way as well as to keep the tuk tuk’s honest, apps to distinguish between different currency and languages, facetime or skype to keep up with loved ones, kindle/audio books to read and learn, MacBook Air to make EVERYTHING easier (as well as to not add much weight to my pack), and our cameras that have currently captured over 30,000 of our memories.
I am thankful for food and clean water, and that I do not know what hunger nor thirst is. For vaccinations and medicine that we have gotten prior or have with us to keep us healthy.
I am so thankful that even being jobless and homeless, I still feel so rich in comparison to the extreme poverty and difficult lifestyles that some are born into and face.
I am thankful for the ability to travel the world and to expand my mind, as my little box is challenged every single day.
I am thankful for friends we have met along our journey, and that our Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated with a few German friends, trying out tarantula at a restaurant that takes street kids in, to offer them a chance of a better life through training and employment.
I am thankful for air conditioning in this 100% humidity and 95 degree maddening tropical heat, that I am not sure my body could survive for very long, without.
Although possibly inappropriate, I feel the need to add that I am very thankful for (and very much miss) western toilet facilities that maintain a clean and dry environment, keep the shower heads and toilet separate, furnish the bowl with a seat, and provide amazingly soft, yet durable toilet paper.
As we finished up our Thanksgiving day in an overnight ‘sleeper’ bus to Siem Reap, I am thankful for the very affordable means of traveling around Cambodia, even though it was a miserable, bumpy ride that offered zero sleep to either of us.
This Thanksgiving day was unlike any in my past, as I realize how much I have previously taken for granted, and how much more I have to be thankful for.