| ANNE WILLIAMSON |
Our culture increasingly skips Thanksgiving. I was in Target Monday, and it was Christmas, Christmas everywhere. Christmas on the shelves, Christmas hanging from the ceiling. When checking out, I noticed a singular "Happy Thanksgiving" sign above the cash registers. It looked depressingly out-of-place. I miss Thanksgiving. And if the increased societal grumbling over the Halloween to Christmas leap is any indication, I'm not alone.
I think our mutual longing springs from the fact that, intuitively, we know we need Thanksgiving. Before the frenzy and the stuff, we need a day (or a couple) to sit and be grateful. To reflect on what we have already. To be present to the moment and the faces sitting around the table. Even when it's hard - when relationships are messy, precious faces present last year are missing, or we're struggling with life in general - gratefulness is still important. It's important because it reminds us of the good that already is and the good we hope will be.
Many teachers, spiritual leaders, parents, psychologists promote gratefulness. Perhaps no time during the year is their wise counsel more important than now. Every direction we look in the coming weeks, we'll see one consistent message: what we have is not enough. This is the shadow side of Christmas, among all the loveliness. And, it is lovely. I am a fan of Christmas. I simply think gratefulness, beginning with Thanksgiving, and then as a perpetual spiritual practice throughout the season, provides a necessary balance. Gratefulness reminds us of what really matters, and in so doing, shapes how we spend our time, our money, our energy; that is, gratefulness, if we let it, shapes Christmas. LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE...
Watch, listen to, this five minute film on gratefulness. What do you see? What does your heart hear?
Out of what's stirring in you, set an intention for the coming weeks. Share it with S/someone.
I'll offer this known and loved (spiritual) practice... Every morning from now until Christmas, start each day by saying three (new) things for which you're grateful. Carry them with you throughout your day. Share them. Sure, literally, but more so, share them through you're way of being in the world. (If you've got kids, bring them into the experience by connecting their gratefulness to your family's daily Christmas countdown.)