For most, the bustling season started in early November, and for others, it started earlier in October. For me, it starts in mid-November. It starts when the trees changed their green color into red, yellow, orange, sunset, and every shade in between; when the brisk morning wakes my slumberous body. When the lovely sound of the leaves beneath my boots give a satisfying CRUNCH! Yes, this is fall. This is the familiar cheer for joy and thanksgiving. This is the season when the whole world (in America anyway) comes together and give thanks.
As for me, I am already thankful for each day God gives me as another chance to do His will, another day of prayers answered, miracles performed, and lessons learned. I am thankful every day because He protected me from the dangers of the world.
I still love Thanksgiving as it provides an opportunity for families to come together and be grateful for each other.
Many events take place around this time of the year. We have Thanksgiving and Black Friday (being major events back to back, and for some, they take place on the same day!). As for my family, we also celebrate another event call Hmong New Year. Every year around Thanksgiving, my family doesn’t truly celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional way. It is not a major event because Thanksgiving falls on Hmong New Year’s week (dates differ in every town around fall/winter, but for me, it has always been around Thanksgiving). I planned to attend this year’s New Year festival. Thinking about it reminded me of when I was a child, my family would attend every year – at least, with my mother.
I remember the hustling and bustling early in the morning in our little rented house. Mom would rush my sisters and I to hurriedly eat our breakfast, wash our faces and brush our teeth. The long wait standing while getting dressed ensued. My mother would put a beautifully hand-stitched shirt on me, then wrapped an equally gorgeous skirt around my waist, and tied a matching apron around my waist (the tail falling in front of me and the second apron falling behind me like a long tail), then she tied a bright pink sash over it all before adorning my waist with a coin sash, adding bags with sewed coins to either side of me. Then she placed an intricate and bold silver necklace around my neck. Finally, she topped my little head off with a hat full of all the colors and decorations a little girl could ever want for a hat. Yes, the outfit was like a bejewel ornament and it was heavy. She did the same for my sisters.
Mom always planned to leave the house early but we never made it out the door before noon – getting dressed took up the better part of the morning.
The new year celebration almost always takes place at the fairgrounds between 3-5 days depending on how large the community is.
There we went from one vendor to another browsing through the merchandise – always too expensive for our budget. Mom always bought dubbed Chinese movies that the family would watch together the following days.
After a few hours of browsing my sisters and I would become irritated, tired, and hungry. Mom would find a place for us to sit. She fed us with the lunch she packed (we were too poor to afford food from the food vendors).
I never remember the trip back home. I probably was too tired and fell asleep.
That was the thanksgiving of my childhood for which I am grateful to have experienced.
I don’t go to Hmong New Year every year. I feel there is no need, but this year, I am excited about attending and browsing through the many Hmong outfits and jewelry stalls. It speaks of my culture and our history, which I enjoy learning about.
This year, opening day for Hmong New Year falls on Thanksgiving day. With our priorities straight, my family and I will celebrate thanksgiving on the 28th and skip Black Friday in favor of attending the Hmong New Year festival (to my delight).
While this is the season of Thanksgiving, I am so painstakingly aware that for many it is a season of hardship (the cold, limited food, seeing the joy of others and wishing to have something similar). I encourage you to be thankful for what the Lord has blessed you with and ask that when you are out, remember to bless others as well. I will too.
Let’s respond to our brothers and sisters in need with love. Matthew 25:40 says, ““The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” We are blessed this Thanksgiving thanks to the Lord (a roof over our heads and company to laugh with), let’s pay forward the blessings to our brothers and sisters whether it be out on the street or in our own church.