Bezona column: Celebrate Thanksgiving wherever you are

  • The durian is a popular fruit of Vietnam and much of tropical Southeast Asia. In Hawaii, in spite of its unique taste, it is one of the newer fruits to come to Hawaii and bringing top dollars to local farmers. Each fruit can sell for as much as $25. (Photo courtesy/Voltaire Moise)

As we wander around Vietnam, our family back home is gathering at the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary to celebrate Thanksgiving. Being here really makes one aware of how blessed we are in Hawaii.

Thursday is Thanksgiving but giving thanks for the many blessings should be a daily event. These are strange times. For the last several months, it seems many folks have been focusing on the negative especially when it comes to politics, so let’s try something healthier.

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Let us for the moment not focus on how indigenous peoples of so many other ethnic groups were treated as they tried to fit into the American Dream. Let us not focus on the two World Wars of the early 20th century that killed an estimated 100 million people. Instead let us focus on the great contributions these diverse ethnicities and cultures have bestowed on America as we move forward in the experiment called democracy.

In Hawaii we are somewhat insulated from much of the world’s turmoil. The tropics of the world like Vietnam have many places with as much beauty as Hawaii, and there are many places where you can find friendly people. What is unique about Hawaii is that not only are we a beautiful and friendly place, we have a form of government that allows us to live in relative safety and prosperity.

Our form of government attempts to allow for rule of the majority with protection of the minority. It is just enough capitalistic that it rewards free enterprise and just enough socialistic that most folks have food, shelter and medical care.

Now some readers would disagree, but compared to most tropical regions, we are very fortunate.

Vietnam for example, fought for freedom from the French, but it is still recovering from the effects of that long war in which we became involved. Some people of Vietnam still live very close to hunger, illness and a relatively short life span. Folks here are enduring, tenacious and hard working, but without an environment that allows their talents to prosper, some struggle to thrive. Hard-working farmers of the countryside here would be millionaires if they were living in Hawaii where we have many more opportunities to excel.

Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are. Too often, Thanksgiving is about eating too much rich food and the worry that the weight gain is likely to continue until the New Year or maybe Easter.

Unlike much of the tropical world, we don’t usually have to worry about from where our next meal comes. However, it should be the perfect time to sincerely give thanks for all the many blessings around us in Hawaii every single day. Not only do we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, we are blessed with one of the most diverse populations of most other parts of our great country. This creates an environment of inclusion. We can be friends with anyone we like and marry anyone we want. With this mixture of ethnicities and cultures, we have an abundance of a great variety of foods.

We celebrate this abundance with mango festivals, breadfruit festivals, avocado festivals and we just finished celebrating our special coffee with the Kona Coffee and Cultural Festival. We even have a Macadamia Festival. These events merely scratch the surface when it comes to all the amazing fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices that we are able to grow.

Hawaiian gardeners may grow scores of tropical fruits like citrus, mangoes, bananas, avocados, mangosteen and even durian but often overlook some favorites from warm temperate climates like apples, peaches, pomegranates, figs, kiwi fruits and persimmons. With all the micro-climates available, we can grow almost anything! The joy of sharing the fruits of our gardening labor at local farmers markets and with our neighbors adds even more blessings.

To get the most out of all these choices, check with local nurseries for these fruit trees and more. Our gardens represent the many cultures that have made Hawaii so special.

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Remember, one of the best ways to count our daily blessings is by spending some time in our multicultural gardens and appreciating the fruits of our efforts and the contributions the many cultures have bestowed upon us.

To learn about all the great edibles you can grow, call our UHCTAHR Master gardener helpline in Kona at 322-4993 or in Hilo at 981-9155. You may also call Brian Lievens of the Tropical Fruit Society to get additional information on new tropical fruits and sources of plants.

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