Today is the day across America that we celebrate the most American of holidays. One that has nothing to do with religion or something imported from across the Atlantic, brought over by immigrants. Nope. Thanksgiving is the real American deal.
And although its origins are shaky in my opinion… (let’s all gather and break bread with the natives and give thanks for all of these great opportunities we have in the New World… Then let’s annihilate them and massacre them all)…
There is still a wonderful tradition to take away– and that involves gathering with family and loved ones; and yes– spending time today actually going through an exercise of appreciation and gratitude.
And I mean real gratitude and real appreciation.
Others turned to Facebook and posted their thanksgiving thoughts there… I’ve recently deleted my Facebook account and can’t do it there… So I’m turning to my trusty blog to send to the universe my “ten points of gratitude” on this Thanksgiving holiday.
1) I’m thankful that I still have my mom. A recent health issue of hers has brought me much closer to her and every additional day I have with her matters more than the previous.
2) I’m thankful that I am Greek. I’ve met so many identity-less Americans this year who marvel at what we have and look for their own identity. It’s a constant reminder to me to fight to hold on to what we have. Because once we lose it… It’s going to be hard to find again. No financial crisis in the world, no negative publicity or press– nothing can take away my pride for coming from the greatest civilization this earth has experienced and one that has given so much.
3) I’m thankful for having found the courage to stop looking for energy and positivity in false people and objects. In the past, bracelets, pieces of clothing, and other items from “special” places and given to me by “special” people, served as a sort of “good luck” and “positive” energy. I’ve learned this year that this is all bullshit in the end and people and objects don’t give you positive energy… YOU give YOU positive energy.
4) I’m thankful for Leon– a man who believed in my talent and expertise and hired me this year to accompany him on a trip around the world, which changed my life.
5) I’m thankful for having the opportunity to have met Owk and Mai, a mother and son struggling with illness and poverty in a rural Cambodian village. These two people changed my perspective on my own life and on philanthropy and charity in general.
6) I’m thankful to have the real love and support of thousands of people who believe in the vision of the Greek America Foundation, the organization I founded and continue to run as a volunteer more than a decade later. And despite sick and twisted attempts by a tabloid newspaper in Chicago to throw mud at me and the organization, the support from people actually got stronger because this twisted attempt to paint me as a charlatan actually backfired.
7) I’m thankful to have finally met my “teacher” this year who helped me learn so much. I learned life-altering lessons from him– including the ultimate lesson that life is full of decisions and the most difficult ones are actually the ones that bring about the best rewards. Meeting and spending time with my teacher, who ended up being the biggest inspiration I’ve ever known, was by far one of the biggest events of this year– if not my entire life.
8) I’m thankful for another lesson I learned this year from my teacher– That magic happens outside your comfort zone. But more importantly, if you are a coward and never leave your “real” comfort zone to experience the magic, you’ll never experience that full potential. I wasn’t a coward. I left my comfort zone and magic did indeed happen.
9) I’m thankful for friends like Pete Karmanos who taught me the valuable lesson this year of standing behind what I believe in and never being afraid to speak my mind for something I believe in. Peter, during a conversation, encouraged me to throw away political correctness and grow some balls and believe in what I stood for. I’m also thankful for friends like (not in order of importance!) Anthoula Katsimatides, John Pyrovolakis, Manoli Alpogianis, Tia Angelos, Mike Noussias, Nick Dimitropoulos and Ioannis Charalambous who ended up being my real rocks in difficult times this year.
10) I’m thankful to have fully grasped the concept of faithfulness and loyalty to people. This year I experienced some egregious violations against me by people I had either hired, had trusted, or had placed a tremendous amount of faith in… I’m glad I can sleep at night knowing that when I believe in someone or something, it’s real and not manipulated, for ulterior motives.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING AMERICA!
So glad for you Gregory! Trully hearted text! I am so glad for your progress and your personal evolution. I loved the part where you write about your mother, about you being of Greek origin and what that means to you and the phrase YOU can give YOU positive energy is a real treasure! Be blessed and all the best! Happy thanksgiving! Mary Karahaliou
I AM SO THANKFUL that you are in the lives of every GREEK (and even those that aren’t Greek)! YOU keep teaching the world so much. You inspire us, you teach us so much about where/who we came from. I cannot express in words how you and The Greek America Foundation have changed my life.
Enjoy every second of this day & days you are with your Mom and family. Xoxoxoxo