By Olga Hernandez
November, here you are again. November – what are you thankful for? Maybe the colorful leaves that fall from the trees or the humid grass, or maybe it’s the smell of the crisp air in the morning. Whatever it may be, I am thankful for it as well. As we grow older, we grow wiser and have more to be thankful for, especially when you grew up poor. I think just waking up in the morning and being alive is already a win.
A win is also having Thanksgiving traditions and just spending time with people we cherish and love. I am thankful for every little thing I have now because when I was young, I could only dream of having it. We did not have very much back then, which meant there were no big, fancy dinners during the holidays. For Thanksgiving, we either went to food banks to ask for food, which was the best dinner, or ate what we had, which most times was maybe an egg or a small bowl of rice. It was enough for one day, and most times, we went to sleep hungry.
That was not important at the time because what was most memorable was being with my family. My mom and dad had most holidays off; that meant we spend the whole day together. We loved to cook together; whether it was a big meal or small, it was all of us as a family doing it. One of our traditions were going around the table and expressing what we were thankful for. We did not have much, but we were always happy to have a roof over our heads and good health. What we had was a lot for us, but the number one thing was having each of us together.
Having each other’s back has been the one thing I‘ve taught my kids, and I remind them no one will ever be there for them like family. We still go around the table and have everyone tell us what they are thankful for, but let me tell you, they’re not thankful for what we were humbly thankful for, and I’ll admit, it’s our fault, but I know they’re thankful for everything we can provide.
Luckily, my kids have the fancy meal. By that, I mean the over-the-top meal that we may have to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner the day after, but being able to give them what I didn’t have is the best feeling. Now, no one goes to sleep hungry; they go to sleep very comfortable and full. The most important thing on these holidays and every day for me is the memories we build together and the memories they will one day talk about with their kids or friends, just as we currently do with the people we cherish and love.
I hope everyone has wonderful holidays filled with love, amazing people and lots of food. May all of you eat tons, so I am not the only one who feels guilty at the beginning of the year. We are in this together, we are a judge-free zone!
Olga Hernandez, Yakima, WA – Olga Hernandez is a community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. Born and raised in the Yakima Valley, she enjoys fishing alongside her husband and three wonderful children as well as traveling to at least one new place every year. Like this article? Feel free to respond to Outreach@HealthAlliance.org. Thanks for reading!