Much has happened since my last post. We've had a national presidential election and somehow Donald Trump emerged as the winner. Perhaps like many of you, these past few days have felt like an eerie episode of Twilight Zone. And also like many of you, I've experienced a range of emotions including fear, worry, and disgust, at how some in our country has translated a Trump "victory" into justification for their racist, violent acts against humanity. Though I have serious political and cultural objections to the narrative of Thanksgiving, it remains a sacred time of gathering with my loved ones. This year, the family time will be a welcome respite from the still Trump-dominated media and the other challenges of our times.
As I prep for tomorrow, I thought I'd share a few family-centered contemplative practices that I'll be doing with my loved ones this year. You are welcome to borrow these, modify them, or share your practices in the comment box below.
Thank you notes
It's common for family members to say what they are thankful for before they dive into a scrumptious meal that took someone hours to prepare. However, I thought I'd step it up a notch this year. With my daughter, and two nephews, I'll be guiding them in a gratitude visualization and we'll then create handwritten thank you notes for family and friends to whom we'd like to extend warm wishes. I keep a case of colored pencils, markers, and stencils in my Mazda 5. they'll come in handy tomorrow. We'll then take a brisk walk to the mailbox and drop in our thank you notes.
Feed the birds
When I was a child my mom used to crumble up old stale bread in a plastic bag and we'd walk together to the park to feed the pigeons. It was such a gift to feel connected to nature in that way, to express thanks by sharing a morsel of food with our aviary friends whom we mostly think about as a nuisance, rather than a blessing. Tomorrow I'll be walking my munchkins to the park with a plastic bag of old breads so I can share this simple, yet humbling practice with them.
Honor the Ancestors
Similarly, we'll be placing a plate of delicious Thanksgiving vittles on our ancestral altar at home. We'll light a candle, pray, sing songs, look at old photos and letters, and invite the spirit of our ancestors to be among us.
Family gatherings are a great time to tell stories and share family history. To add a contemplative spin, try focusing on the listening this year - the tone, inflections, volume, silence, laughter, repeated words, and common expressions that come to mark a family's unique language. You can even try having one person tell a story and then have another family member repeat the story, noting the differences and constants. I'm looking forward to hearing age-old stories of aunts, uncles, cousins, and parents. It'll be fun to hear how the family lore will be more grandiose since last year.
However you are spending tomorrow, I hope you'll take time to be reflective, introspective, and fully present with your family members. The moments pass quickly. Let's remember to indulge in each other while we indulge in the season's delectable edibles. Best to ALL!