This past Sunday was the Canadian Thanksgiving...
I always talk about Thanksgiving and how it’s my favorite holiday in theory. What a wonderful idea, right? A holiday dedicated to appreciation and a feeling of thankfulness for what we have. It’s a great philosophy and one that should be ringing out from the ways during the day. But, then you throw in Turkey dinner, the stress of building a meal as per tradition, you throw in different stories and focuses or you try to make it about appreciation and end up wondering how to do it differently than Easter or Christmas... than solstices and nature holidays... what makes Thanksgiving stand out?
I’ve been a parent for 14 years this Wednesday. 14 years. And for 14 years I’ve been looking for a way to bring specialness into each holiday, how to bring spiritual awareness and emotion into each celebration, so it didn’t get overcast with stress and anticipation.
And this year, Thanksgiving was finally created.
It happened quite by accident really. My younger daughter (who’s the party planner by nature) and I were talking and she was making decorations and activities for her and her brother. The usual What am I thankful for stuff.. as well as place mats for dinner. We were talking about how to make it different, more celebratory; especially since her older sister had commented that we never really “do” Thanksgiving. (What a thought, I was horrified... theoretically it was my favorite holiday... and we’d never “done” it.)
And then the thought flowed in.
We decided to write letters and cards to each other, telling each other what we appreciated about each other. For an hour in the afternoon my children and I filled envelopes telling each other how wonderful each other were. It was an incredible feeling space to spend time in, writing down all the wonderful aspects that make them themselves. We decorated them and made them special, letting them light up the table that night.
I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of opening my envelope that evening. I was focused on what I appreciated about each of them, but to read what they appreciated about me; well it made me cry in overwhelming joy.
In my course Spiritual Kids, building foundations for the Spiritual Aware Family, I offer an exercise in the appreciation board; a wipeboard you hang in the kitchen to leave comments on what you appreciate about other people in the house. The idea came from my friend Elizabeth over at www.appreciationboard.com and I fell in love with the idea right away.
But this little ceremony we did on Thanksgiving was a flood of the feeling of appreciation and thankfulness. A perfect new tradition for a perfect holiday.
What followed was a discussion about what we appreciated about other people we knew, other family members, friends and acquaintances. That too was an incredible experience, as we didn’t always pick the easiest names... we didn’t see the people we chose very often or we didn’t know them very well. It stretched our thankfulness muscles... which of course is what Thanksgiving should be for!
A little different than the stereotypical “what are you thankful for?” but as my husband points out, that version of Thanksgiving should happen every day.
But noticing the little things about people you know and bringing them up over a candlelit, fancy dinner while exchanging letters of appreciation with the people you love.... followed by pumpkin pie... now that is a celebration indeed.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Whether it was this past weekend for you or in a month’s time! <3