| Anne Williamson |
Life has been a little nutty for me lately. Between the pregnancy nausea and fatigue, busy work schedule, house to-dos, and I-must-try-out-every-emotion-available-in-the-next-30-seconds threenager living with us, I collapse into bed most nights. Perhaps you do too. It seems to be the way of things for all of us some of the time.
This is okay. Busy seasons of life are to be expected. What I don't like, what doesn't feel okay, is the stress. This daily anxiety of things left undone, opportunities missed - whether in work or with my child, husband, friends. Some of this stress feels unavoidable right now; but some, I must admit, is beginning to feel like a choice: a choice to wallow in it, a choice to not remind myself all is well. Choices that feel particularly misguided amid all the suffering I see. Choices the holiday season will prey on with its "never enough" drum beat.
This is why, when discerning a blog post for this Thanksgiving, I felt the message I most need to hear, to speak once again, is the same as last year: gratefulness. Once again, and over and over, gratefulness. Perhaps you do too...
Originally posted November 23, 2014
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. (Watch this video for an excellent example.) 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.
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 this holiday season, 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 and celebrate Christmas, bring them into the experience by connecting their gratefulness to your family's daily Christmas countdown.)