The days are growing colder… and as I look around, my senses remind me to cozy up for the holidays. In the U.S., it is the time of year to celebrate the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving. I have to admit that although this time evoked warm memories of family dinners, and special moments with loved ones…as an adult, it also brought up conflicting emotions. I never really felt a deep connection to Thanksgiving until I became a parent.
I used to believe that Thanksgiving was created by Europeans as a result of a dinner they enjoyed with the natives that taught them how to live off of the new land. We all know how that ended up, and so it just felt wrong for me to celebrate with a feast of food, while others suffered. Until I realized that there is so much more to this holiday than just historical facts. I learned that there are natives that also celebrate Thanksgiving, as they always did even before Europeans defined it as a holiday. This time of year was a time to honor their Source for all the food that they grew and harvested, as well cleansing in sweat lodges, clearing relationship disputes, and by honoring and helping each other. I came to understand that at the very core, this time of year, truly is a time to celebrate all that we are, and all that we cherish in our lives. This includes everything and anything…from God, to our loved ones, our health, our homes, our planet, our world community, and even our materialistic rewards. And it can be celebrated in a way, where this can all be expressed through any form of honoring. What if we cleansed before Thanksgiving? What if we cleaned up, and restored our relationships? And if we did, what would it look like in our families? What would we be modeling for our children? What would our new year look like?
Some of us like to keep it traditional, and gather together with our loved ones to connect and enjoy a meal together. Others prefer to travel and take time out to reconnect with their immediate family, themselves and nature; a few donate their time in a soup kitchen; and there are others who simply do not celebrate at all. No matter how this time is honored, if we simply keep the ingredient of gratitude in the mix, the experience and true meaning of the holiday remains, and is passed on.
As the season approaches, I slowly tune in and grow present to the people that have made a difference in my life, especially in the last year. As different people come to mind, I begin to make a mental note of them. What follows next is a brief acknowledgment and appreciation to that person. It can be through a simple email, phone call, card or personal exchange. Sometimes this doesn’t come easy if there was previous conflict with someone, and so I notice that what is needed is more of a clearing, or a completion, or anything that leaves us both feeling clean and empowered by the relaitionship and time we shared together.
Just a few days before, or even during the day of Thanksgiving, I begin to acknowledge myself and my family – parents, brother, husband and children. I tap into a vulnerable place and just express my appreciation for anything big or small that means a lot to me. This exchange runs deep for all of us. It is a breath…a moment to reflect and celebrate what, and who we are to each other. This action is something my children pass back to me during random moments throughout our year. Their acknowledgment hits right home to my heart, and makes me light up like nothing else in the world can.
If you are having a Thanksgiving dinner, you may want to bring this into your gathering. A little note card under each person’s napkin, or an inspirational quote, or to simply say grace where everyone at the table, and in our world is acknowledged. You can also make a craft with your little ones where they get to write a note to your guests, draw a picture, or pick a flower for each person and place it on their table setting. Any gesture from the heart that allows them to express their appreciation will not only fill everyone else’s heart, but your child’s as well.
I am still exploring ways to offer a meaningful experience to my children about Thanksgiving that is appropriate. When I ask myself how to best create this, what comes up, is to simply share with them that this is a time of gratitude for all that is – for our present moment, all that came to be, and all that we are creating for ourselves and our world. A time to be thankful that we are able to offer more to ourselves and others in the world. And we can do this in a way that seems true to us, and feels good to us. It does not have to be celebrated in any particular way…it is simply expressed with love and appreciation.
When we open our hearts and express generosity, we are the ones that are actually offered the greatest gift. An act of kindness will only make the heart open wider, and the more we give, the more we receive. We can give small and we can give big. Even a small acknowledgement, or taking responsibility for an action in a relationship, can open up a whole new world for our families. Or simply expressing our love and appreciation to each other, and our loved ones, or anyone, is a way of giving thanks. And even though we have this one time of year to truly focus on this exchange, we can actually bring this into our everyday life. Sure, we can use this time of year, to go the extra mile if we’d like, but the point is to be present for all that is around us.
And so now I say that whichever way you choose to celebrate this time of year, as long as you come from your heart, then you and your family will feel a deep connection to it. No matter what you do, do it with intention, with meaning, with Love and in a way that feels true to all of you. And if you can go a step beyond, pay it forward to someone that can use a little extra something in their life, so that they too are left with the experience of appreciation, and giving thanks.
Wishing you all an Blessed, Cozy and Happy Thanksgving!
With all my Love,