Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. At it's core, it comes down to two simple things--food and family.

I had the pleasure of celebrating the holiday with my family in Davis. The four days at home were a welcome respite from residency interviews and the ongoing city trekking that has consumed my life during the last few weeks. After making the decision to apply into obstetrics and gynecology, I feel like my life has been moving so erratically with residency applications, interview invitations, rejections, and wait lists. Above all, I feel like a broken record, repeating my life story over and over again to complete strangers around the nation to prove my commitment to the career I have chosen to pursue for the rest of my life.

When I first stepped foot in my parent's house, there was the initial barrage of questions relating to the places I have visited. "So, which place did you like the best?" my mother asked.

"What's your number one, Eisha?" my dad asked.

After dodging the obligatory questions (I have yet to figure all this out), I was able to settle down and finally sit still in one place.
The serenity and calm of being home was a welcome change and reminded me about the simple pleasures of life-- the aroma of curries, warm blankets fresh out of the dryer, crunchy red and yellow leaves, runs on crisp autumn days, cups of chai with my mom, walks with friends, and family dinners around the kitchen table.

I know many families have Thanksgiving traditions. Interestingly, our Thanksgiving dinner is so far from traditional, we have created our own culinary rituals that have been inspired by western and Indian traditions. We have never had turkey. Every year we have baked chicken with potatoes, boiled corn, baked fresh naan, and cooked curry; it makes quite a feast.

As we gathered around the table and savored every morsel of food, I felt so lucky to be surrounded by family.

For me, Thanksgiving is a time to remember all the blessings we have in our lives. I came up with a list (in no particular order) to remind myself about all the blessings in my life.

1) My Health- having the ability to see, breathe, get out bed each morning and face each day
2) My Family- the people in my life, who love me unconditionally, define and support me. I owe them everything,
3) My friends- the people who ground me and care for me, functioning as my extended family.
4) Learning opportunities- being able to pursue my dreams and creative endeavors
5) Food- makes life worth living. I live to eat and exercise to eat.
6) Shelter- despite the high cost of living in the city, I am lucky to have a roof on my head, a kitchen for cooking, and a place for entertaining
7) Golden Gate Park and Running trials- the natural beauty in an urban setting rejuvenates me
8) Running- a pass-time that has helped me maintain my physical and emotional health, taking me to new heights
9) Medical school- a place where my dreams started and have only begun to evolve as I venture forward
10) My patients- their stories inspire me and remind me why I chose to pursue a career in medicine
11) My teachers and mentors- their patience and dedication to my learning has allowed me to grow
12) My experiences- have shaped me
13) Living in San Francisco (and California, for that matter)- the possibilities are endless
14) My blog- having a place to express myself, reflect, and communicate with an audience (although I have not met you, I hope I have affected your life)
15) Freedom of speech- I talk so much (so I benefit from this protection)

Before I left home, my mother repeated to me the same advice she gives me every Thanksgiving.
"Eisha, we celebrate Thanksgiving once a year. But, remember every day is a day to give thanks for all the blessings we have."

She is right. Among the blessings in our lives, each day serves as a blessing and an opportunity to give thanks.