The holiday season is firmly upon us now and we are all navigating a way to celebrate them during the pandemic. For years, I’ve struggled with the concept of Thanksgiving – isn’t it a time to honor the native Americans and their role in helping the first white people who invaded their homeland? Does it have to be filled with gratuitous gratitude? Can’t we express our gratitude all year long in a variety of ways?
Conversation recently has been revolving around the ideas of normal, rituals, and routines. The blessings of this year’s unique situation is that people who usually just blast through the holidays doing the same thing every year are stopping long enough to examine their activities.
What are the motivations behind doing your holiday rituals? Is the benefit in the repetitive nature of ritual, the comforting quality of routine? What is the difference? Am I doing it for myself or sacrificing my own preferences to make others happy (which also allows me to feel valuable and loved)?
The uncomfortable feelings of being out of control, the future being unknown and the resulting helplessness all add up to the need for routine, ritual and habitual behavior. This year’s unprecedented experience (at least for a hundred years or so), gives the gift of self-reflection instead of functioning purely from habit.
Take some time this season to explore the family rituals that you have for the holidays. Some conversations of this kind are comfortable with some family members and disconcerting with others. Make sure you are checking in with yourself and truly finding where your comfort level is and where your motivations lie.
Are your choices a reflection of your desire to take care of everyone else? I’ve met some who are basing their own decisions on what others are afraid of – even when they don’t have direct, physical contact with those people. Some people are defying the value of respecting the choices to find their own comfort. The answer lies somewhere in between. That is why it is of immense importance that we continually look within, listen past the fear and incessant mind chatter to find the deep calm that lies underneath.
Spiritual practices, breathing exercises, physical activity, being in nature are all wonderful ways to reconnect with that internal voice. That’s where we find the clarity that is within.
So where are the blessings in Thanksgiving this year? To me, the blessings are the opportunity to consciously make a new choice in how to live life. What changes might you choose this year that will help you build the future you would like to live and love? Look within and find the blessings hidden in your soul this Thanksgiving. That’s something to be truly grateful for!