home-lettersMy small town has recently welcomed a Syrian refugee family. Soon after their arrival, the newspaper ran a picture of the mom, dad and their three young children playing in the local park. It was an ordinary, yet also extraordinary scene.

Our new neighbours have spent the last three years in a refugee camp not knowing what their future held. Via a translator, the father expressed his gratitude to Canada, Canadians, and those in our little town for sponsoring his family. That ordinary newspaper photo marked the start of a new phase in all their lives.

Tomorrow, an immigrant of another kind will boost our town’s population further. Like the Syrian family, Tech Guy is also moving between countries. There, however, any similarity ends.

grandpas-chairHe’s coming to a place and a culture that are familiar. A place where he has family and friends. He speaks the language, and he has a job.

He also has a home where some of his clothes already hang in a closet, and his grandfather’s chair waits. He’s never known the horror of war, homelessness, or of having every aspect of his life turned upside down.

 Like these new Syrian-Canadians, though, Tech Guy and I are also grateful.

We’re grateful for the job that’s made it possible for our family to be reunited.

And we’re grateful for the kindness of those in our community, strangers a mere fourteen months ago, who have welcomed us, taken our family to their hearts, and shown caring and support when English Rose and I have sorely needed it.

When I chose “gratitude” as my word for 2016, I had no idea how topical it would be.

There are many things for which I can’t be grateful; English Rose’s illness for one. But intentionally choosing an “attitude of gratitude” has made even the hard times a bit easier.

rideau-sceneOn Monday, October 10, my family and I will celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s a time to give thanks for the harvest and blessings of the year.

Our Syrian neighbours will celebrate their first Canadian Thanksgiving. A chance, perhaps, for them to try pumpkin pie and maple roast turkey, or take a peaceful walk to admire the autumn colours.

Despite the myriad of differences between their family and ours, we’re both marking a new beginning this Thanksgiving. And we both have special reasons to be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating. And Thanksgiving or not, wishing you ordinary times with those you love, and gratitude for blessings large and small.   


  1. Sue Bavin

    What a very special and timely post, Jen. I do hope your new neighbours from Syria will settle in and be happy in their new home. And of course I send you my best wishes for the future of your newly reunited family. Gratitude was indeed the perfect word for you this year. Have a wonderful, peaceful and blissfully happy Thanksgiving together tomorrow. xx

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Sue. I’m replying to your comment belatedly, but we did have a happy Thanksgiving and certainly were grateful for our blessings. xx

  2. Jen Gilroy (@JenGilroy1)

    RT @SusannaBavin: On eve of #CanadianThanksgiving, @JenGilroy1 celebrates her reunited #family & reflects on her motivation for 2016. https…


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