Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving - A Daily Practice

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
Bil Keane
Thanksgiving brings up the opportunity to step into gratitude for our year and reminds us to pay attention to those blessings that are easily taken for granted. As we end our holiday weekend, I am sure we have all touched on some of our blessings. The rituals of Thanksgiving can be carried out further. We may bring the focus to each day with remembering  that each day is a gift and brings blessings if we step into the moment and live in the present. 

In celebration of our Thanksgiving holiday, I spent a bit of time today reading Living in Gratitude by Angeles Arrien. (Arrien 2011) She presents a yearlong plan for making gratitude the foundation for daily living. The idea is that by internalizing the virtue of gratitude through practice on a daily basis we can shift our thinking, the way we see the world and how we interact with others. Studies show that a practice of gratitude increases our ability to be caring, compassionate, just, honest and respectful towards others. Arriens makes the point that not only do we gift others when we live in a grateful way, but we also are gifted.  Both the recipient and giver experience a sense of connection and appreciation when gratitude is given. 

To anchor our appreciation of the holiday and what we did, Arriens encourages us to consider what rituals have been passed on to us, which ones we have continued and what new rituals we have started. Ritual bring opportunity for connections. Our extended family started a ritual years ago that has been fun to revisit each year. The tablecloth in the dining room is one that each person is encouraged to write on -- reflecting what he/she is grateful for the current year, dating and signing it. As years have rolled by, we now spend time reading the comments of others throughout the years as well as adding to the current year’s grateful themes. We find it a natural thing to recall the memories of other family members that may not be present this year but have joined the gatherings in previous years. 
A given ritual is our annual Turkey bowl. After the big turkey dinner we have a game of football regardless of what the Nebraska weather presents us with.  This has gone on for the past 30 years.  This year my great grandchildren (age 5) participated.  It has been fun to watch the generations move into new roles (from running the football to watching by the sidelines) or just starting to participate as the person to snap the ball at just five years old. It has been rewarding as the younger become the older in mentoring the newest. Regardless of whether we are just getting some outdoor air, or if we are participating in the game, we all know that it is what we will be doing after the dinner. And there is solace in the predictability of the day as it brings us together in connecting in our ritual. Rituals allow us to know when and where to show up and then the rest is up to us. We can chose to enjoy the moment before us and be in gratitude connecting with those that cross our paths.

Our yearly ritual of celebrating Thanksgiving reminds us of how important it is to find the gifts in our moments. This is a practice to incorporate everyday, enjoying our moments and finding the gifts by staying present in the day we are living at this moment.  Shift into the idea of seeing and being in gratitude and your whole moment, day, and week will shift.  Make this a practice that goes beyond the holiday of Thanksgiving. Begin today to live in gratitude in the present moment which is our gift,and ultimately our only gift - the gift of "now".

Works Cited

Arrien, A. (2011). Living In Gratitude. Boulder: Sounds True.


No comments: