Gratitude on Thanksgiving

– Posted in: Authenticity, Evolution, Gratitude, Living in Choice, Personal Growth

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(Originally Posted: 11/30/10; Revised: 11/28/13)

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Breaking bread with old friends and family. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving © 1973

As we enter the Holiday Season, I notice people’s mindsets tend to line up along a continuum: one extreme experiences the joy of the season, while the other wants it to be over as quickly as possible.

We all have the potential to delight in the joy of the season, most of us did as children, yet for many, time spent with “family” is fraught with personality differences, challenges and hurt feelings.

I have gratitude for how the season inspires us to rise above our differences and embrace what makes us the same. How often I hear how we are “pleasantly surprised” when things “go well” and everyone “behaves” themselves

As a culture, my holiday wish is for us to embrace what makes us all the same.

On automatic pilot, the American tradition is to gather around the table, stuff our faces, and retire to the couch where we pass out watching a football game. I don’t mean to suggest that there is anything “wrong” with a little R&R. However, the holidays are a time of potential connection, so perhaps we could consider breaking with “tradition” a bit?

This season, whatever your relationship with your family, when you look into their faces, look beyond what you expect to see and peer into their hearts instead. It can be familiar to cast them into their roles where there are sides to take. When we allow ourselves to hold onto hurt feelings, and differences of opinion, when we maintain “our side of the story”, we lose sight of the whole person on the “other side”.

We can get stuck in “the way it is” and maintain a rift, but this saps our strength from other things we could be doing. Pain and anger can become a filter through which we see everything: like living in a submarine and viewing the world through a periscope.

Stop and think: deep down, you know you have learned much in your life. Are you thankful for who you are? All that you have experienced has sharpened your ability to see beauty in the world. All that you have known has informed the person that you are.

It is the same for “them”.

Start a new family tradition: see the whole person in front of you, as you would want them to see you.

This year, we have an opportunity to start a new family tradition: see the whole person in front of you, as you would want them to see you.

See them as they were when they were a child, in their innocence.
Imagine them as they:

  • Played with their favorite toy…
  • Listened to their parents tell them a bed time story…
  • Watched the snow fall outside their window on a winter’s night…
  • Greeted the sunrise on the first day of school…

Have compassion for their journey as the person that they are.

When we look through the periscope at those who have influenced our lives the most, sometimes it can feel like a challenge to give them thanks. (I can hear some of you cursing at me from here!) But consider: you are not defined by a single action, or relationship, so why define them in that way?

What would it be like, for a moment, to see them as you would have them see you: as a whole person, “warts and all”? Yes, there are some who have committed crimes so heinous that it may feel nearly impossible to forgive them, let alone thank them! But consider, just for now, seeing the whole person, not for their sake but for your own.

Every opportunity that expands your perception, increases your ability to change your world.

How can this benefit you? Any opportunity to expand your perception, allows you to see more of the world and more possibilities. Anything that keeps you looking through a periscope challenges your ability to affect your life. Every time you look from a new point of view, your mind broadens and with it your ability to create your world. That is why I want you to see the whole person, both “out there” and in the mirror as well.

So, as we move into the holidays, this season of possible connections, consider giving thanks (if only in your heart) to those that have helped you to become who you are and who you are becoming.

For me, I am grateful for my life, my friends, my family and myself, feeling as I do that it all unfolds perfectly.

I am grateful for you, Gentle Readers. May this season fill you with all the joy of connection!

Remember, always infinite possibilities, always your choice…

If this entry sparked your thinking, I invite you to comment below!

4 Comments… add one
Connie Obelnicki November 28, 2013, 3:30 pm

Great calming words to start the holiday season. I am so grateful for family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Christine November 29, 2013, 2:23 pm

Thank you, Connie! I too am in deep gratitude for family, and how that family has grown over the years to include so many! I hope your holiday was delicious for your palate and your spirit too! <3

Jen November 29, 2013, 3:08 am

Very well said, Christine! It is so easy to slot people into the category you have created for them from previous experience, but that is not all they are about. To look at them and really see them with a different and open perspective can really shake things up and at the very least make one appreciate them more for who they are. Thank you!

Christine November 29, 2013, 2:21 pm

Gratitude to you Jen! Thanks for writing! I agree whole-heartedly. When I feel challenged by an experience with someone, I will shift my mind to what that person might be like with someone they love, or visualize them as a child playing in the snow: something that shines a light on a gentle part of who they are. We can forget all the many aspects of ourselves in our day to day, and respond from just this moment’s frustrations. We are all so much more than these fragmentary aspects, but when we forget this, we become trapped in a pattern that can feel very painful. Shifting perspective, as you say, allows our truth to shine through, where we can meet on common ground. This is what I mean by Luminance. 🙂

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