Self-Serve Happiness

Thanksgiving felt like it was going to be a dud. We did something about it.

By Dulce Zamora

Dread. That’s how I felt about Thanksgiving this year. My daughters, Sienna and Jasmine, had not wanted to participate in anything lately, even with putting up the Christmas tree — which we did in mid-November this year because I thought it would cheer everyone up. It didn’t. What happened? 2020. Need I say more? Oh, and my two girls are now in their teens and preteens. Again, need I say more?

I had gotten to the point where I was tired of being everyone’s cheerleader. Here I was, trying to decorate the tree by myself (after my husband Noel helped me put up the tree and lights — thank you!), and the girls would say stuff like:

“I don’t think you need the ribbons.”

“It doesn’t look good.”

Or, “It looks like the tree is in a cage.”

To be fair, I tried all sorts of ribbons on the tree, and they didn’t look great. I didn’t have enough of one ribbon to wrap around the tree. I also didn’t feel like going to the store.

“No comments from the peanut gallery,” I said.

“Huh?” asked Jasmine.

Both my daughters were sitting on the couch, drawing something.

“You don’t participate, you don’t get a say,” I explained. “You want holiday magic? You’ve got to help create it.”

“Do I have to?” asked Sienna.

“This year has been really hard — I get it,” I said. “But, helping others can help you, too.”


“The help you give can come back to you in so many ways. Not always, but many times, it will. Just don’t help only because you want to feel good. Help because you’re part of a team.”

I encouraged everyone to make at least one dish for Thanksgiving. They groaned.

So, on Thanksgiving, the house was buzzing with slicing, dicing, roasting, and also some toasting.

Noel made crispy pork belly, French onion soup, and lumpia (Filipino egg rolls with beef mince, plus finely diced carrots and celery.).

Sienna made a roasted and mashed potato wonderland.

I made a brussel sprouts bonanza with candied walnuts, pomegranate, and dried cranberries. (My own take on an old recipe.) I also made a sautéed button mushrooms with gravy, of which I forgot to take a photo. It was a hit, though. There was none left at the end of the day.

Jasmine made a spiced caramel cheesecake. (Her own recipe.)

While we cooked, the family and I talked about the various trips we had during Thanksgiving. Smiles began to appear. Laughter. Dancing. It was more than I had hoped for, and I was extremely grateful.

After the girls finished making their dishes, they even asked me if I needed help with my preparations. I nearly fell off my chair. (Or maybe it was the wine.)

At the end of the day, we were stuffed –not just with food, but with the idea that helping others can reap rewards for us, too. That’s a whopper of a lesson in 2020.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Be the joy you wish to see in the world.

© 2020 Windswept Wildflower

Originally published November 27, 2020

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