Being originally from Australia, Thanksgiving is not something we celebrate down under, as it’s a custom specific to here in the US.

Having traveled a lot around the world I’ve always been fascinated by the traditions and cultures from other countries. I love to learn as much as I can, so I have a better appreciation about the people and the country where I am a visiting or residing in.

One of the most memorable Thanksgivings I ever experienced was the first one I shared with my 2nd husband Charles. A dear friend of ours, Greg Halihan who was the owner and chef of “Stella’s” the most fabulous restaurant up in Sebastopol in Northern California, had invited us to come to a special function at his restaurant to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family and friends.

We arrived in the mid afternoon and the whole place was buzzing. Great music was playing in the background, appetizers and drinks were served to the crowd and there was a wonderful array of people from all different backgrounds that we got to meet and chat with.

Before we sat down for the main meal, we had the privilege to have Bonnie Raitt a top international singer/songwriter and musician, perform live with a few of her band members. To be present to this private concert was absolutely sublime. The choice of songs, the singing and musicianship was stunning and it brought such a feeling of joy and goodwill to everyone there.

After the concert we all got to stand up and share, one by one, what we were thankful for. What was most memorable for me was the incredible feeling of love, camaraderie, connection and gratitude as each person got up to share. There was a raw honesty as people spoke about their families and what that meant. For some, those who were nearest and dearest were still alive and their eyes twinkled with recognition. For others, they had passed away, their fond memories evoking tears of joy while recollecting poignant memories.

When it was my turn to stand up and share, I spoke about how my entire family was back in Australia, 8,000 miles away. However, I felt such a sense of welcoming and being embraced by everyone there that it was like I had an adopted family and I was not only grateful for my family back in Oz, but I was also very grateful for my new found family in California.

When we open up our hearts and arms to others, it creates such a feeling of love and acceptance and fills the spirit of those we touch with gratitude and grace. That was what I was thankful for. We get to experience the very best of each other and ourselves as human beings.

When we sat down to eat we were we blessed with the most sumptuous food on the planet! Again I was reminded how the grace of God takes care of us no matter where we are, even if we are thousands of miles away from our homeland and those that we love. Home is where we are in the moment, you, me, all of us are blessed with God’s bounty in every moment. That is what I am truly grateful and thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!