Savoring Thanksgiving

The lead up to Thanksgiving dinner at our house can have a lot of moving parts. My people are foodies, and everyone participates in this special meal. The grocery list tends to be long, and shopping itself can get complicated. If we’re serving dinner at our house, the day is extra busy, and the kitchen is overfull of cooks – right up until the moment that we slide into our seats.

When there’s a lot going on, it can be hard to savor.

There’s the Norman Rockwell version of the holiday, but there’s also reality. Some of us will be sitting down to a meal and missing people we cherish. Some will be sitting across from someone they have a difficult relationship with. For some, the day isn’t what they envisioned it would be. Thanksgiving comes with its own set of stressors.

The Thanksgiving table can be full of lots of challenging things – emotions and expectations included.

That said, I love Thanksgiving. The holiday hasn’t succumbed to commercialism. The message is simple, the celebration is straightforward. I don’t feel any pressure to make it bigger or better or shinier each year. And unlike Christmas, the season doesn’t keep getting longer and longer.

But, that full Thanksgiving table can also be viewed as a metaphor for the challenge I face in the rest of my life (and I am not alone).

When there’s a lot going on, it can be hard to be present and to absorb the gift of the moment.

Thanksgiving isn’t about overeating. It’s not about getting things perfect. Thanksgiving is about savoring.

It’s about taking time out to appreciate the bounty and pausing to be grateful. It’s an opportunity to really see and acknowledge the good in people who are important to us, experiences and things and circumstances that we are grateful for. And in such a busy world, that’s a true gift.

But even on Thanksgiving, a day designated for pausing and acknowledging gratitude, the space to stop, and savor, and experience does not always come naturally. If I let myself, I can feel as rushed and unfocused when I’m celebrating, as I can during a work week.

It’s possible to eat that whole wonderful meal without fully experiencing–without pausing and savoring. If I don’t make space, I can easily finish too much turkey and stuffing while talking and laughing and never really taste it fully. And it’s possible to be so busy, that I don’t take a deep breath and step back and fully experience the meal, the day, and the gratitude.

When there’s a lot going on, it can be hard to savor.

This Thursday, wherever you are and whoever you are with, whether you live in the United States and celebrate Thanksgiving or are somewhere else, I challenge you to join me.

On Thanksgiving Day, let’s:

  • Slow down.
  • Breathe deep
  • Stop and look each other in the eyes when we speak
  • And express gratitude–both out loud, and also by really savoring the food we put on our plates, absorbing the conversations, and experiencing the caring.

I’m very lucky. Even though I won’t share this meal with all the people I’m closest to, I’m privileged to spend the holiday with people I love and care about. This year I’m going to make sure I really savor the day.

Care to join me?

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