Another year, another Thanksgiving gone by. For the second year in a row, I spent Thanksgiving here, in a country that does not seem to grasp the concept of Thanksgiving. Granted, it’s an American tradition that was religious in origin, but for a nation that is ever determined to mirror the lifestyle and culture of the Western world — such as dressing up for Halloween, apparently — they are sadly ignorant of Thanksgiving here.

Even though it did not feel much like Thanksgiving this year, it felt surprisingly more so than it did last year, perhaps because it was my first Thanksgiving away from Buffalo and the life I had loved there, and as I had been back for barely eight months, it was part of the process of adjusting to life here that I had to learn to do without Thanksgiving as well. Another reason I couldn’t think of Thanksgiving last year was that I was too caught up in my own personal life, trying to salvage something I had destroyed and that threatened to consume me, and I failed to realize that in spite of all the difficulties I was facing, there was always something to help make it all more bearable that I could be thankful for.

And then, two days ago, as I sat at my office desk, contemplating an extremely disturbing piece of news, I remembered that it was Thanksgiving. Every year, when I was living in the U.S., I thought about what I was thankful for, and it was always the people I had come to know and love there, and the fabulous opportunities I had been given to live some of my dreams. And so, in an attempt to take my mind off  the possibility of having to face what could be one of the greatest tribulations of my life, I thought about what I should be thankful for this year, or ever since I set foot back on Malaysian soil.

I’m thankful for my parents giving me the space and time to adjust to life here, for understanding what a significant and difficult transition it was, and for accepting that I was no longer the 19-year-old who left home on her own for the first time, but the 23-year-old who was grown up and trying to start her own life all over again.

I’m thankful for the greatest friend God has given me, who was there through the difficult times I had last year, who tried not to judge me when I dragged myself down to an epic low over something I couldn’t have and was throwing everything away to achieve. Who sat with me through bottles of gin, vodka and tequila with Kleenex at the ready while I contemplated the mess I had made of things, and who still sits with me while I bawl my eyes out over the phone about the circumstances of my life, all without judgment.

I’m thankful for the job that I have, for being able to get a job on my first try so soon after coming back here. Granted, it may not be what I was cut out for, but I’m thankful to have a job in the current times, and I’m thankful that I will somehow be able to make the best of a bad situation where my job is concerned. I’m thankful for this job that has given me what I can consider a good friend, and the few people who make it just a little less difficult.

I’m thankful for the man in my life now, whom I ran into, under the most unusual straight-out-of-a-movie circumstances, after not seeing or speaking to him in over a decade. Who saw and accepted me as I am now — damaged goods, as is — and still promised to stand by me and wait for the day that I can take down the wall around myself and stand before him a whole, healed person.

And most of all, I’m thankful for being able to rebuild my life here, even though I had fought so hard not to come back. I’m thankful that I was finally able to realize that even though I had left home when I was 19 to escape the life I had then, it didn’t necessarily have to be the life I would continue to have when I came back. I’m thankful that I now have some semblance of the life I wanted, and I’m thankful that I’ve learned to look at the big picture and make what I can of what has been given to me.

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