Giving Thanks the Armenian Way

“We thank thee for health and food,
For all things that fit our mood,
For love and friends,
For everything that goodness sends.”

On this Thanksgiving Day, let us give thanks for all those pleasures we’re apt to take for granted.

First and foremost is our proud heritage. Can you imagine a life born into another ethnic society? A different language? Music? Food? Church?

Let the light shine through this Thanksgiving
Let us give thanks for a culture that has withstood the test of time and all that we have contributed to world civilization, from our Christian persuasion to the resilience that followed in the post-genocide era.

Much too often, the focus has been on turmoil and Turkish defamation, not the aftermath. Count your blessings that we’ve quadrupled the population over the past century, saw a country regain her independence 20 years ago, and are now seeing churches being restored in Historic Armenia.

Our gratitude, please, for the many countries that have recognized the genocide, sent foreign aid, and generated a positive tone with regard to human rights. Hopefully, our great country of America will join the ranks and give us a government that will keep Armenia in its thoughts.

On this Thanksgiving, it is our hope that the United States has an interest in protecting and preserving the rights of national, religious, and ethnic groups worldwide while urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and return confiscated church properties.

Let us show thanks for all the vital Armenian communities throughout the world. To those who remain isolated from the rest of us, perhaps a new society can be formed, whether you live in Sweden or Siberia.

Please show some appreciation to the dedicated activists we have working with the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) in connecting with our legislators. Let their voices continue to be heard and let others join their cause. An active Armenian is always better than a passive one.

Let us thank our lucky stars that we have an extra dollar or two to help a charity. We’re a lot better off than that farmer in Dilijan who lives off the sweat of the land. He survives in a country he can call his own. That’s his compensation.

If you’re an immigrant, count your blessings at the family you raised, the children you sent to college, the sacrifices made along the way, and the fact you kept your heritage intact. The language you may have taught them will continue to survive another generation so long as it’s utilized.

On this Thanksgiving, find it in your hearts to seek out a lonely or deprived Armenian. Go ahead and invite them to your home. A hearty meal is one inducement. A heartier relationship is better food for thought. No doubt, every community needs work. It begins with one individual at a time.

On this Thanksgiving, let us not lose sight of some small gestures of gratitude. You may find a baby’s outcry in church somewhat disturbing. Be grateful there is a child to represent a future generation that will keep your congregation energized.

Show some appreciation for that volunteer at your church or community center—the guy who washes the dishes following a dinner, the person who shows up diligently to sing in your choir or teach your students.

Find it in your heart to thank the cooks in your kitchen for killing your diet with an Armenian delicacy. Go ahead, have another baklava with your coffee. After all, it’s Thanksgiving. If you have trouble making ends meet, get yourself a new belt.

For all those who have some disability, show the ability to lend them a hand of comfort. Invite them into your home or pay them a visit. As for the indigent, don’t look upon them as being poor but simply down on their luck. Let them know they are being remembered.

I saw my share of families living in lean-tos during a trip to Armenia. They had a shelter over their heads and braced for the winter’s cold. We have a thermostat that keeps us warm. Somehow, life’s equation falls in our favor. Let us not lose sight of these pleasures.

Our thanks to all the genocide survivors of the world who kept the torch of humanity burning. In your prayers, remember the immigrants who set forth on this great nation and eked out a vibrant Armenian community.

Lastly, to the many Armenian humanitarians who have given us a transfusion, either morally or physically. The names aren’t important. They’d rather be called “anonymous.”

On this Thanksgiving, let’s find it in our hearts to toast everyone’s health—collectively, not one at a time. Too many toasts would only ruin our own.

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
Tom Vartabedian

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1 Comment

  1. Tom: I enjoy your articles, whenever I chance upon them. I love your wit too:

    “After all, it’s Thanksgiving. If you have trouble making ends meet, get yourself a new belt.”

    The best of dry English humor with an Armenian accent.


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