Hector Panama, a "Diamond District" bodyguard who emigrated to New York for 40 years ago, feels blessed to be in the "city of his dreams." (VOA Photo: Adam Phillips)
Hector Panama, a "Diamond District" bodyguard who emigrated to New York for 40 years ago, feels blessed to be in the "city of his dreams." (VOA Photo: Adam Phillips)

NEW YORK - Every year at Thanksgiving, Americans have a formal opportunity to consider the blessings they enjoy, and to express gratitude for all they have received over the past year.  A random sampling of New Yorkers were asked what they feel grateful for.

It’s a cold and drizzly day in New York City, and the subway is running late.  But for this patient patron, a sense of Thanksgiving gratitude warms the morning.

“I’m grateful that every day you wake up and every day you get to experience new things and live your life and be able to do it in the way you want.  The second my eyes open, I’m a happy guy," said a subway patron.

Tourist Joanne Jett is grateful she opened her eyes in New York City this morning.

“I am from Halifax, Nova Scotia [Canada] and I am here going to Broadway theater.  And I can’t believe I’m doing it.  Because I never dreamed I would," said Jett.

Hector Panama, a burly bodyguard, has been in New York for 40 years.  He is thankful for an imposing physique that allowed him to get a good job in the city of his dreams.

“Gratitude is when you feel good about what you received and what you’re getting.  And blessing is when you are satisfied with everything.  And I am so happy to be here.  It’s the best.  Why go to other places?  You got everything here.  I love people.  That’s the bottom line," said Panama.

Marvin Deliz, who loads trucks for a living, is th
Marvin Deliz, who loads trucks for a living, is thankful he can provide for his family, and is grateful for the time he will spend with them over the Thanksgving holiday. (Adam Phillips/VOA)

Nearby, Martin Deliz is hard at work loading trucks.

“Nobody likes to work.  But I thank God I am able to provide.  Everybody is doing well, so I am happy for that and for these upcoming holidays I can’t wait to spend some time with them," said Deliz.

In a cafe down the street, America Trinidad takes active joy in her good fortune.

“I have been blessed with so many good things.  My family for one, my husband, my grandson, my three girls, and then the extended family, they are all just around and I am very blessed.  I had a not so great childhood. I think God made it up [to us] as adults.  I had a great career.  I just retired.  I loved it.  So I am so grateful for that," said Trinidad.

Her adult daughter Lenina beams appreciatively at her.  Lenina says she wants to pass on the value of gratitude to her own daughter.

“We do talk about being gracious and being grateful for the things we have and the good fortune that we have, and to be grateful sometimes for the ‘not good fortune’ because it teaches us to appreciate when it’s good.  It gives us strength to carry on and really appreciate and live in the moments that are good," said Lenina.

Hannah Dubner, a young actor, has a similar attitude.

“For me, gratitude is remembering what I’m thankful for, not when it’s easy but when it’s a difficult moment.  What I’m grateful for [is] that there are people in my life who remind who I am sometimes when I forget and remind me to believe when I don’t believe.  Because on the days when I do believe, I don’t need anyone to help me, and I feel unstoppable.  And those are also the days when I try to remember to be grateful, that the highs are going to be super high and the lows are going to be very low, and they all have a place in this world," said Dubner.

Yoni Davidov, a jeweler, says that his Jewish fait
Yoni Davidov, a jeweler, says that his Jewish faith teaches that life's challenges, as well as life's pleasures and joys are equally gifts from God. (Adam Phillips/VOA)

Yoni Davidov, an orthodox Jewish jeweler in Manhattan’s “Diamond District,” echoes that idea.  

“The same way you thank God for the good, you should also thank him for the bad.  We don’t realize all the calculations of everything that God does for us," said Davidov. "At the end of the day it’s all for the good.  We just have to take it day by day and that’s it.  ‘Thank you that I breathe.’  ‘Thank you that it’s not worse!’”

Some grateful thoughts - and even a bit of philosophy - for Americans to digest along with all the turkey and trimmings this Thanksgiving Thursday 2013.?