GIVING THANKS THE ARMENIAN WAY
by Tom Vartabedian
Published: Monday November 14, 2011
Rainbow over Tatev gorge in Armenia. Hayk Badalian / Photolur
“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?
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
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, seen a country regain her
independence 20 years ago, and now churches being restored in Historic
Our gratitude, please, for the many countries which have recognized
the genocide, sent 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 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
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 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
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
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 have
kept the torch of humanity burning. In your prayers, remember the
immigrants who set forth on this great nation and eked out a vibrant
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.