We celebrated Thanksgiving here in the U.S. last Thursday, a day of great and delicious feasting or at least that's how it turned out in my neck of the woods. We laughed a lot and chopped a mountain of vegetables and rolled out pie dough. We clinked glasses, expressed gratitude, chewed and swallowed and smacked our lips in appreciation. We lingered around the table, fell into a heated debate on a thorny, controversial topic and still loved each other in the end. Afterwards, we walked the dogs, did the dishes, and took long naps on the couch. It was a classic Thanksgiving scene with all the usual, wonderful, over-the-top bountifulness and satisfaction.
Such a day, if closely observed, really does loosen up our everyday preoccupations with the small and petty, coaxing out a deeper appreciation for our lives. How can it not? When there's plenty, and even more significantly, when we notice that there's plenty, we cannot help but feel gratitude, a state of being which brings with it a sense of belonging and generosity. This is what Thanksgiving feels like.
Or maybe not. Maybe it feels like the stupor that comes with an overstuffed belly, accompanied by the sound of a football game played loudly in the other room. Maybe it looks like the dog stealing the leftovers off the kitchen counter or it awakens those complex, more tangled relationships we have with love, food, family. Maybe Thanksgiving tasted like regret, or disappointment, or failure.
I hope, no matter what your Thanksgiving looked or felt or tasted like, that there was a small moment when you noticed some simple, everyday beauty: a mound of tangled parsnip peelings or your niece's smile, maybe. Or the morning sun on a lone persimmon sitting on the table. I hope that there was a moment in there somewhere when you were able to see how everything is perfect and intwined and fully in its glory.
Of course, it doesn't always have to take a big fussy feast day for us to find gratitude and belonging. These are qualities of our everyday lives as well and in fact, it's probably more important to find them there then in the grand gestures of giant turkeys and three kinds of pie. But still, it helps sometimes to make a big deal about it in order to remember that in fact everyday is a beautiful day and every moment, a thanksgiving.
More Thoughts on Thanksgiving
(Image credits: Dana Velden)