As Thanksgiving week draws to a close, I have so much to be grateful for in my life and 2020 has been no different. Well, yes, it has been very different in many ways. I do not have to mention the differences because everyone has felt the significant amount of changes. This year has been one filled with change, unknowns, political unrest and divisiveness among family and friends on a scale that I have never witnessed before. Many people that I have talked to are ready to jump into 2021. We are not there yet. We want to flee our present moment because we don't like change and we can not control what 2020 has revealed to us. I have grown the most in my life from the challenges that have presented themselves to me and this pandemic has been no different. Perhaps, we have been brought up to believe that everything will be better tomorrow, or Friday, or the weekend, or when there is a vaccine for Covid and we can get back to "normal." What are the gifts you have received in 2020? Can you be present enough to witness the teachings from the pandemic?
The present moment is the only place we can find peace. Our bodies are in the present moment. Let's bring our minds there, too. We need to feel and honor our feelings and let them go with gratitude and love for what they have taught us. When you find a way to release the grief, the resentments, the what ifs, the guilt, jealousy, and any hindrances that are weighing heavy on your mind, you make room for joy and hopefulness to come into your life. Settle down, find a calm breath, reflect on the gifts that have been given to you this year. Take a moment and reflect on what you are grateful for in this moment. Jot it down.
People have cried out that they need more time in the day to get everything done. We are overloaded and over scheduled. 2020 has given ample time to shift our schedules and hopefully our awareness of what is important. I loved seeing families walking, biking, running, and playing outside together. Many people are not commuting and are working from home and that can be a huge gift in saving energy, money and time traveling. You may be saving money on car maintenance, gas usage, going out for lunches, happy hours, and dinners. The fewer drivers, the less pollution emitted into the air and not as much noise from traffic on the ground or in the air, all have been gifts to the environment. I have seen many new dogs and cats that have been adopted by family and friends this year. Pets have the ability to offer a level of comfort to families. They possess a magic elixir of unconditional love and support that seems to absorb our negativity and worry.
People are taking the time to make eye contact and say hello to people they meet on their walks or in the grocery stores. You can see the twinkle in the eyes above the face masks when someone greets you. People long for any kind of connection. Restrictions on gathering with families and friends has been very challenging for most people. It has given us a reason to be more creative in talking with loved ones and making the effort to stay connected to our families and friends. 2020 has been a gift in slowing down and taking the time to really feel the loss of gathering and how incredibly important and healing it is to be able to visit, hug, talk, laugh, and share time with each other from all generations. Love is the greatest gift we can offer to ourselves and each other...so take the time you have to share the love that is in your heart in any way possible.
In the quiet of the morning, as the sun is rising in the east, and slowly showcasing its gorgeous hues of orange and pink radiant light, I pause. I breathe deeply in gratitude for being able to celebrate another Thanksgiving. I have felt the presence of the dearly departed souls in my family gathering around. I am always reminded that life is short and yet eternal. Choose to be kind. To love each other from a deeper place. Let go of resentments and forgive. Be grateful for life and all that it offers.
I can feel their love, advice and presence as I prepare food for the meal. As I sauté onions, celery, and garlic in butter for the stuffing, I always think of my sister and how much she loved it. I put yeast, warm water, and sugar in a bowl to begin the dinner rolls made from scratch that takes hours to prepare, but are so worth the wait. A recipe that has been passed down through the generations on my mother's side. There is a lot time to reminisce while waiting for the bread to double in size, kneading it, and to shape into dinner rolls and allow the dough to rise a second time before they bake. My father was from Ireland so potatoes were a staple in our household. As I peeled 5 pounds of potatoes for our meal (I have literally peeled 1,000's of potatoes) of course he always comes to mind. As the bread bakes, that smell is one that can take me back.
My husband delights in looking up different ways to cook the perfect turkey...every year. He is a bit of a perfectionist. This year he prepares the turkey in a roasting pan with chicken broth, onions and seasonings...guaranteed to be his best. My father used to make the turkey when I grew up. Rick's mother used to make a delicious feast that could feed several families. Soon the smells of the turkey roasting, the scent of baking bread are wafting throughout the kitchen and mingling with the memories of past and present Thanksgivings and how each was unique.
The anticipation of a delicious meal prepared and shared with generations around a very crowded and often chaotic table will not come to be this year. I can hear all of the voices and memories from holidays in the past coalescing with the present. I have grown children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren that add to my incredible tapestry. The threads of a family intertwined throughout my lifetime experiences...where do they end and I begin? We are all connected.
I can see Thanksgiving 2020 looks a wee bit different than in years past. All week, as I have been preparing for our Thanksgiving, I didn’t know what it would look like. Just another lesson of surrendering to the unfolding that 2020 continues to offer us. Who would be able to join us? I did not know. We were ready to cook a meal and deliver it to any family members that live near if we were unable to gather around our table. Whatever my holiday looked like, I would breathe deeply, honor all feelings, wipe away any possible tears, let go of the past Thanksgivings, and prepare a delicious meal for 2 or 20 and be grateful for this Thanksgiving 2020.
Thank you has become a mantra, a prayer if you will, words that I say every day. I whisper them, I say them out loud, and I write them down. When I began to become aware of the power of gratitude, my life shifted in a beautiful and positive way. I was able to adjust my thinking from worry, fear, and lack to gratitude and abundance. Make a list of what you are grateful for in your life and I guarantee your life will become brighter and your burdens will become lighter. Your list of things to be thankful for will continue to expand. Wake up with a grateful heart and go to bed counting your blessings.
Take a moment before you eat, to give thanks. In your moment of giving thanks, you can include the people who have gathered with you for your meal, the farmers who grew your food, the animals and the plants that have become your food, the people who transported the food to the grocers and farmer’s markets. You can offer thanks that you have the ability to purchase or to grow your own fresh and healthy food. Give thanks to whomever is preparing the food for you to enjoy.
When you pause and offer a prayer of gratitude before you eat and drink, there is a beautiful moment of reverence and grace offered to the oneness of the universe that we are all connected to. It nourishes your soul as well as your body. Thank you.