Making the most of Tradition, Family, & Celebration with a deeper gratitude for a time honored Thanksgiving
What is truly on your plate this Thanksgiving? Are you looking forward to taking a day off in order to reconnect with family and friends whereby you can compare notes, share political views, (or not), and just “chill out”, watch football on TV, hang out with the kids, and enjoy a guilt-free sumptuous feast? Or are you feeling somewhat lonely; disappointed; apprehensive; irritated; overwhelmed, or just a bit resentful? In order to truly celebrate this time-honored annual occasion in style and Grace, perhaps focusing upon the notion of GIVING THANKS regardless of your current circumstance is the most important attribute of the day.
Our modern social culture may seem rather fast paced to say the least. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, many of us are already planning for the next-day’s “Black Friday” holiday shopping spree. We may find ourselves considering just how we can “move past the holidays” in one piece all the while muttering, “ I can’t believe another year has nearly flown by…” Often in our harried state of checking off our “must do” lists, and striving for the most perfect holiday feast, perhaps if we were to take a deep, luxurious breath, let our shoulders down, break into a glorious smile, and simply know that no matter what: We are only obliged or perhaps encouraged to take pause, reflect upon what we already know we are blessed by, and revel in a deeper state of real gratitude. Hmmm…
Picture this … the “family guests” comprised of both related, associated, and endearing friends and relatives are gathered at the table. Most likely Dad is carving the turkey, amidst a vast array of appetizers, signature dishes, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy,
biscuits, jello, various salads, vegetable dishes, and scads of pumpkin, pecan, rhubarb, and apple pies…oh don’t forget the whipped cream; and perhaps Apple Cider, Champagne or Wine, etc.. is also offered. At one point, in the traditional sense, a call to be seated is announced. (Of course these traditions may vary to one extent or another). Nevertheless, most often before anyone dives in for the feast … the gathering gives pause for a note of Thanks.
While the focus ultimately may be driven towards gobbling up or inhaling with gusto the lipsmacking anticipation of this fine meal…. yes, with noticeable glazed over eyes, and an ever ready irresistible call to consume this sumptuous feast …. What if another unrealized appetite — although perhaps a somewhat suppressed urge, was also amply fed and satisfied? While the “family” gathering moves along, and members of this celebration attempt to offer a sense of gratitude; indeed, is there a deeper pause taken whereby a more particular, thoughtful, and even precious sense of true thankfulness and acknowledged blessings can be expressed?
The usual gratitude fanfare, often is remarked upon by such sayings as “ I am so grateful for my family, my friends, and this opportunity to share a wonderful Thanksgiving meal together”… Yes, that is a lovely sentiment … Yet can we be even more transparent, genuine, and decidedly come from a much deeper sense of true thankfulness? Consider wetting your appetite with other, deeper, more endearing sentiments such as:
“My family has been through so much over the years. There were times, I felt we might not survive some of the struggle and pain that caused us to emotionally nearly fall apart. Yet, it was at that very time, or during the darkest hour before the dawn, that I can say with such complete Gratitude in my Heart … we stuck it out. We supported one another. We turned the corner, started over, and with such deep appreciation for each other … well, we found ourselves
blessed by God’s Grace and Charity. Then our Hearts truly Expanded. It is with that thoughtfulness, in recalling our blessed moment of gratitude … that urges me to express a Thankful Heart with you all as my witness… So, I invite each and everyone to open your heart
even wider and receive the unyielding goodness that is still yet to come. God Bless Us All… Amen.
We call it saying “Grace” at the table.
While Thanksgiving is considered an age-old tradition, in many other states, especially in New England, (where it all began), Thanksgiving may also mark the change of seasons. However, in contrast, those of us in Southern California are certainly graced to enjoy our holidays amidst a variety of climates, beautiful geographical locations, and an abundance of nature. For instance, some local families spend Thanksgiving sitting down to a festive picnic or barbecue enjoying a colorful sunset on the beach perhaps after a walk on the shoreline, good game of volleyball, badminton, or surfing. Other Southern Californians celebrate their Thanksgiving holiday in the nearby desert … Therefore, some families may check into a luxury hotel in Palm Desert whereby everyone can play a hearty round of golf or tennis, before enjoying their Thanksgiving feast amidst a starlit night followed by a plunge in the pool or jacuzzi. Still, others may decide to travel to the nearby mountains such as Big Bear or Arrowhead where friends and families can hike, run, mountain bike ride, or otherwise simply enjoy the mountain air while strolling amongst the evergreens. To simply acknowledge how we are graced to live in this paradise is to revel in the local, natural beauty that abounds. It is truly a remarkable gift for anyone who resides or is visiting to experience our beautiful Southern California’s colorful and contrasting ambiance.
You see, Gratitude is medicine. It is an elixir for the troubled heart. Taking notice of all that we are able to enjoy, all the natural beauty, art, music, sports, cultural diversity, and even the local awareness or focus upon health, fitness, and beauty is a true gift as well. Moreover, many locals indeed have a growing awareness for spiritual values or evolvement connoted by an array of sacred sites, including gardens, temples, churches, and ways of celebrating our humanity that feels reassuring. When we maintain a wholesome degree of honor and appreciation for all we have or take note of all we have access to … well, that certainly surpasses the notion of superficiality.
If you are feeling alone this Thanksgiving … you might consider calling the local VFW or Homeless Shelter and offer up a sense of Gratitude by extending yourself to help others in need. You see, where we place our focus, either diminishes or grows our opportunities for living our life on purpose. Being in contribution, believe it or not, can actually assist you in turning the wheel of good fortune. Raising your level of awareness for what is possible as opposed to dwelling on what is not “okay” in your current circumstance, often leads you to have a direct demonstration of positive, amazing, or at the very least gratifying experiences. Volunteering or helping others less fortunate is also a wonderful way to get your children involved, and offers a way for your kids to develop a much deeper sense of awareness and compassion. If you do take some time out to volunteer with your kids in order to “serve the poor or less fortunate”, then your children are truly receiving the gift of knowing a true act of kindness and care which naturally allows them to more fully appreciate all they know and all they have.
Yes, indeed there are so many ways to express our sense of Gratitude. Whether we announce it at the Thanksgiving table; we act in service to others, or we simply develop a deeper and ongoing appreciation for the loving acts of kindness given and received throughout each year; and when we stop to acknowledge the beauty and joy that surrounds us… we can offer up Thanks. We can truly say Grace.
By Kristine Grant, MFT
Author of her latest book:
Relationshift: The Right Words for What You Really Want to Say (Available on Amazon Books)