The holiday season has arrived! Thanksgiving is my favorite. I’m not sure why, other than there are no pressures such as presents, guilt and the food is awesome! The premise of Thanksgiving, to be thankful for a good harvest, for food on our table and surviving another year, is something anyone, of any faith, or of no faith, can partake in and have a spiritual day. Of course I hear my daughter reminding me that Thanksgiving also represents genocide of our Native American kin. I won’t disagree with her. Thanksgiving history is not all good. But I find that in today’s world, a day of being thankful, regardless of its past, is a good thing. So Thanksgiving will and will hopefully always be, that special holiday for me.
At our table this year we did not do anything special, like saying thanks or grace. We seem to be inconsistent in that regard. But I was thankful to once again have my family around me, less my daughter, who is traveling for a year in Colombia, SA staying with her dad’s family. I have told both my kids, that Thanksgiving is the one holiday I expect them here, at home. And for the most part, although with a little “guilting”, that is exactly where they have been. My mom also comes to visit this time of year which makes it another reason I look forward to this holiday.
As I noted above, there is no guilt in Thanksgiving. No reason to feel that I am somehow being sac-religious. No reason to explain that I may not believe what you believe, and I may not go to church, but I can still celebrate the winter holidays. I am one of those people that say Happy Holidays. Not because I am against anyone saying Merry Christmas, but because Happy Holidays is more inclusive. December is a month of festivals and celebrations of many faiths. Merry Christmas is a wish for one day, one celebration. If you are not Christian it is not the holiday you are celebrating. So please don’t judge me or think I am in a war on Christmas, because I choose to say Happy Holidays. Happy Holidays, as I said, is an inclusive statement. It wishes happiness to someone whether they are celebrating Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, Kwanzaa, or any other day of celebration. But if you wish me a Merry Christmas, I also will not be offended and will probably smile back with a Merry Christmas myself.
And then there’s the presents, or lack there of with Thanksgiving. It’s not that I don’t like gifts. I am human and getting something new is always fun and heartwarming. But there is a certain pressure associated with gift giving. Am I spending too much or too little? What if they don’t reciprocate? Will that be awkward? I truly enjoy buying gifts for friends and family. I like surprises. The joy to me of a present is not knowing what it is on the receiving side, and searching, even if really difficult, for that special gift for someone on the giving side. Sometimes you get it right, and sometimes not. I would hope there are still smiles and hugs and no one is ever wiser if the gift is not just right……
So as I sit here with my house about half way decorated for the winter holidays, I see my yoga magnet on my refrigerator. “just breathe.” And I realize that is the best way to enjoy the next 6 weeks, (yes, I celebrate all the way to Three Kings day and sometimes beyond that!). Breathe and soak in every minute. Enjoy the company of family and friends. Reflect on whatever you believe, whether it’s the birth of the Christ Child, the Festival of Lights, Rebirth and Renewal, Day of Enlightenment,or whatever you celebrate. Find Peace and Joy within your heart, breathe it in, and smile.