Truth: Thanksgiving isn’t just about the food. I am guilty of shoveling it in so fast I barely taste it, eating so much that I don’t feel anything but numb–but that’s not what it’s about. It is about being grateful for what you’ve been given, for what you have, saying thank you. Instead of being greedy or grasping or hoarding, honor your good luck and then let it go, share it, give it away. As for what you keep, love it and use it. Say thank you.
Try something like this before you eat your big meal on Thanksgiving Day, “Blessings on our food and all that made it possible: the rain, the sun, the people who grew it, brought it here and prepared it,” (from Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth). Here’s another nice one, a modification of something from the Anglican Church of Canada, “For food in a world where many walk in hunger. For friends in a world where many walk alone. For faith in a world where many walk in fear. We give thanks.” Or, here’s one I’ve heard at Buddhist meditation retreats, “We receive this food in gratitude to all beings who have helped to bring it to our table, and vow to respond in turn to those in need with wisdom and compassion.” Say Grace. Or, if that doesn’t feel right for you, at least say “thank you.”
Truth: Christmas isn’t just about the presents. This is difficult to see right now, what with all the advertising about Black Friday. And yet, most of us don’t really need anymore stuff, as kindly and lovingly as it might be offered. As for the gifts we give, we need to question our motives, more insistently and often than we do. Is the gift a substitute for our time, our kindness, our presence, our open-heart? Am I trying to earn love and appreciation? And why now, exactly? Because I think I am supposed to?
Instead of Black Friday and shopping and the list of everything we think we are supposed to do, think about this: “Here’s to a refrigerator full of food. Here’s to the electricity that runs that refrigerator. Here’s to clean water being a flick of the faucet away. Here’s to going to bed tonight with a roof over my head (and without the fear of a bomb crashing through it). Here’s to the knowledge that when I dial 911 an ambulance will come get me, not a man with a wheelbarrow…And here’s to remembering those of us who aren’t so lucky. And to do our part to share our good fortune in whatever ways we can,” (from “The Thanksgiving Project – Giving Thanks for the Big Things” by Josh Martin).
You know what my favorite thing about Christmas was as a kid? It wasn’t the presents, even though it felt like they were really important. It was turning the tree lights on when it was dark outside and turning off all the other lights, and putting on Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” album, and cuddling with my mom on the couch. Not the presents. Not even close.
Truth: This is the season of rest, gratitude, generosity, love, and joy. It is supposed to be simple, although we have complicated it with all of our expectations and demands. This year, instead: Do less, love more. Buy less, give more. Bark less, wag more. Stop doing so much and just be. Read Courtney Putnam’s latest blog post, “Doing and Being.” It will help.
I wish for all beings a season of abundance and appreciation–not the kind you can buy at the store or order online, but rather real, honest, and open-hearted.
- What are you wishing for this season?