23 Nov Reframing the Holidays
Well, the holidays have arrived. In my family, we have a Thanksgiving tradition of going around the table at dinner to each share what we are thankful for. But things are going to be different this year for my family, and likely for yours, and there is a lot of grief and sadness in that.
And yet, as I have shared before, I try to reframe challenging situations: instead of why is this happening TO me (more of the victim energy), looking at it in terms of how is this happening FOR me. Considering what the opportunities and gifts are in a situation. And recently, I’ve had some inspiration about that for the holidays.
I am currently studying Judaism in seminary, and I have found such relevant resonance in two of the Jewish practices. The first is Shabbat.
Shabbat (or the Sabbath), is the day of rest that is traditionally celebrated weekly from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. There are countless ways to practice Shabbat, but my impression is that the general idea is that it is intentional rest. A pause. A moment to breathe, to reconnect, to ground into oneself and the divine without working or producing or needing to do something else. I have done this a few weeks now, and for me, it has been so powerful to intentionally start this practice – to give myself the permission to rest and just be and do whatever I feel called to do in any given moment, whether it’s nap, go for an adventure with Taco, read or even do a project I feel called to work on. There is nothing I NEED to be doing, but just what I CHOOSE to do in any given moment. And goodness does it feel good. So, I’m thinking of the time that I’m taking off for the holiday this week as sort of an extended Shabbat. I am excited to nap and read books and do puzzles and go for walks and cook at a more casual pace. I plan to do things that intentionally bring me joy, rest and connection (to myself, the earth, my friends and family, and of course, to Taco).
Much like stereotypical Thanksgiving, Shabbat involves gathering with and connecting with loved ones. And of course, there is grief in the lack of physical connection this year. And I think it’s important to honor that. The last faith tradition I studied in seminary was Buddhism, and one of the greatest takeaways for me was that there is suffering in life; the point is not to prevent or avoid the suffering, but rather to allow for it, be with it and move through it in a different way. I know there will be a lot of feelings this Thanksgiving. There is so much grief to be felt and I welcome it. Perhaps I will even give it a seat at the table. But I also plan to give gratitude a seat at the table.
Typically, the focus of thanksgiving for me is about gathering, being with family (and food!), and giving thanks is of course part of it. But this year, the focus of giving thanks is the priority – the driving force. In addition to Shabbat practices, the other Jewish practice that really resonates with me is the practice of Awe. In Judaic Kabbalah and Hasidism, there is emphasis on God being in everything – there is divine presence in every being and in every moment. I often feel this in nature in particular – being absolutely in awe of what nature is – all of the patterns and molecules that have come together to create the intricate systems and elements around me. It is true in everything. Being in awe is absolutely a form of gratitude – seeing what is wonderful, beautiful, divine in everything – every moment and every experience. And on a nerdy scientific level, feeling and expressing awe/gratitude raises our vibration, literally.
So this year, my thanksgiving will be filled with rest – intentionally pausing and being with myself. And it will also be filled with awe and gratitude.
Here are some of the ways I’m playing with practicing gratitude (in case any of them resonates):
- Writing down and/or sharing what you are grateful for throughout the week (and beyond if it feels good) – I am publicly sharing gratitude for a week, and privately do it every day.
- Telling everyone around your table (virtual or in person) what you love and appreciate about them.
- Writing three thank you notes (everyone in your household or family could do this together) to people you are grateful for (could be anyone).
- Writing cards to those that might be alone or struggling during the holiday season.
- Allowing yourself to look around in any given moment and give thanks – to the walls around you that keep you warm, the blankets that comfort you, the people that love you, the air that you breathe, the wooden spoon you cook with, the trees that keep you alive, the sun that warms you, the rain that cleanses and nourishes you, the water that sustains you, and so on, the ground you stand on and the indigenous peoples it was taken from who fostered it so beautifully.
- Consider where every item on the table has come from – the furniture, the tableware, any decorations, and the food – where has it traveled from, how many people and places were involved in it getting to where it is now. Give thanks for the sustenance and honor the nourishment and the effort that went into it.
In honor of both the challenges and opportunities of this week, I am offering a free guided meditation/prayer call tomorrow night (Tuesday night) at 8PM (should be 30 minutes). It will focus on grounding into the week and being intentional about the holidays ahead. Please join me if you’re interested. Details for that call are below.
Join meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88966983828?pwd=K0J6bytCN0thRVlWTStJR2VzTFlPZz09
Meeting ID: 889 6698 3828
And on a final note, I want you to know that I am immensely grateful for all of you. I am grateful that this platform has given me an opportunity to connect with all of you and explore my own beliefs and thoughts. So thank you for being here. I am grateful!
In love and light,
The Connected Way™