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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

To my readers in America,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving holiday is a uniquely North American tradition. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in America and the second Monday of October in Canada, to mark the end of the (hopefully) successful harvest season and to give thanks to a generous Almighty.

Today with farming being the pursuit of an increasingly fewer number of Americans (and also Canadians), Thanksgiving is a fast becoming a secular holiday celebrated by all.

I used to think that the Canadians were particularly smart or pragmatic in having their holiday on a Monday, thus effectively extending their weekend. Now I think the Americans are more so, as many take the Friday following Thanksgiving as a holiday too.

I remember my first fall season in Canada decades ago and spending Thanksgiving dinner in a Canadian home. The hostess asked me whether there was a similar tradition in my culture. Without a moment of hesitation I replied, “Yes,” referring to our own Eidul Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

Thanksgiving celebrates the tradition of the pilgrims of early 17th century when they shared their bountiful harvests among themselves and with the surrounding natives. This of course was during the days when such concepts as alien registration were, well, alien. Today’s pilgrims would more likely erect fences or walls, all in the name of “security!”

Likewise, with Eidul Adha we celebrate with those pilgrims in Mecca for their successful completion of their Hajj. We join them as they, and we, re-enact Abraham’s ultimate sacrifice. The theme is the same, to express our gratitude to an Almighty and to share our bounty with others. With Thanksgiving it is the turkey that is traditionally being sacrificed, with Eidul Adha, the lamb.

It is a tradition with my family to have guests, usually students from the nearby college, to share Thanksgiving dinner with us, reciprocating my earlier experience as a student. I have been blessed with meeting many fine young men and women thus, and we treasure those many precious memories.

On such occasions it is also a tradition with us, after the usual prayers before dinner, to have each of us cite what it is that we are most grateful for in the preceding year. There were times when such a simple exercise in reflection would demand the greatest thought, nonetheless there was always something that each of us could be grateful for.

Today I am grateful that my family and I are all in good health and active contributors to the community in our various capacities. Except for my youngest son Azlan, my children and grandchildren are spread literally all over the globe. That too we take is as a special blessing from Allah. And we are grateful.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I wish my readers too would have something special to be grateful for during the past year.

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