This, our American holiday that is Thanksgiving, is about gratitude.
For most of us, Thanksgiving brings to mind a big savory turkey, spoonfuls of sweet potato casserole, or maybe pumpkin pie. It also means that family we see every day, and some we may see only once each year, travel great distances to share this homespun annual repast with us. Yet, the anticipation of delicious trimmings and catching up with cousins we haven't connected with of late, our American holiday that is Thanksgiving, is about so much more. It's about gratitude. As the first celebrants of this day believed, gratitude, a special blessing or grace we acknowledge from within our hearts, is the reason we gather. I started practicing mindfulness exercises about a year ago. Practicing mindfulness and acknowledging gratitude has helped me to heal from life's bumps and bruises which I never admitted bothered me. I often review in my mind, the people and the experiences and the prayers I am grateful for. If you do not believe me, try it. The rumors are true...
Not Entirely Average is my passion. I spend almost every weeknight, and all day both Saturday and Sunday cooking, photographing, writing and editing in order to post twice each week for my readers. I do however, have a day time job which keeps me entirely consumed and on phone calls connecting with people to 'fix things' for other people. Today while on the telephone with a customer service representative from Arizona, I learned about the reps grandmother who is currently in ICU. Now, I do not know her, and have never called this phone number before. Really, the conversation began innocently enough with a name and account number. But in the time it took for the reps computer to populate the information I was calling about, I asked her if she was ready for Thanksgiving. It was pure small talk. But I received anything but small talk in response.
Life; both in the beginning and at the end of this journey we are all on, it truly is precious.
Immediately, I knew her grandmother's name was Josephine and that she was lovingly referred to as Nanna. Nanna is slipping away from us; she is dying. And just that quickly, we were no longer talking about my client, but about life. The beginning and the end of this journey we are all on. Thanksgiving will be no celebration for her this year she said. I paused, thinking back to 2016 when my family lost our Matriarch, my Grandmother Anna. Thanksgiving was her last holiday. We would never see her responsive after that day, as she made an immediate turn in the days following our family celebration. I knew that pain, and I could hear that same pain in this representative's voice over 2,000 miles away. I told her I would pray for her Nanna as well as her family, and I told her I have known that hurt and also known that fear. Was she hearing me? Did she think I was truthful? I really can only hope so, as my mindfulness exercise and blessing tonight is all about Nanna Josephine.
Everybody does the very best that they can with what they've got to work with at the time; nobody is perfect. Nobody.
Often, my life is hectic enough where I forget to take care of necessary things. I forget to to say thank you, I forget to acknowledge birthdays even when the darn Facebook reminder pops up, and I forget to forgive. If honest, maybe you are a lot like me. How things get so out of sorts, so fast, is really at times a mystery. My friend Moe likes to remind me that everybody is doing the very best that they can with what they've got to work with at that time. She is right. And by way of that statement, Moe gives permission to herself be empathetic and to forgive. Another friend of mine, Gracie, likes to remind me that I am the 'queen of the day-after birthdays.' By putting a name to my endless and predictable belated-birthday habit, she makes me feel less guilty and offers me the ability to cut myself some slack. These are necessary truths for which I am glad to have my friends remind me. Nobody is perfect. Nobody.
Reach down, realize your pure joy, and celebrate.
So....Thanksgiving. I can run down my list which I am certain looks much like yours on the surface, but today, I am sharing a more personal list of ideas; perhaps things that will inspire you to reach deep down and realize your pure joy. This does not mean that on the surface, I am not still grateful for mine and my family's health, the roof over our heads, or say wine - big bottles of wine - rather, this is my sincere list.
In my blessing, I will express something important to me that I have received or experienced this past year.
I am resolute that those we love who have gone before us are celebrated and talked about during Thanksgiving dinner. That old photographs hidden away, or my grandmother's brooch pinned to my blouse will make an appearance at our table. For these people who shaped our lives shall not be forgotten in our full hearts.
Honoring Others Always
Honestly, what does this take? For that matter, what does it mean? Letting somebody scoot in front of you in line at the grocery? Paying it forward by signaling for another car to merge first? Or asking a stranger if they are ready for the holiday? You must not anticipate the response, only be confident in your action. Honor others always - it's contagious.
A very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to the readers of Not Entirely Average - it is because of you that I am moved to keep going, and your unyielding support is tremendously important. Thank you.