Stocking Up for Thanksgiving

The holiday season: none of us can avoid it, and it is looming like an ominous specter in our near future. Sure, sure call me a Grinch. I’m a grump and a naysayer and I’m not appreciating all the pleasure that can be found by gathering ‘round a hearth with a group of those who share certain DNA commonalities.

True.

But, I’m also a reluctant realist, whose conclusions have been drawn as a result of a lifetime of data collection and this is the equation I’ve come up with:

Family + Confined Spaces + Forced Conviviality = Trouble

Which is why I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with nary a single relative.

Sorry, Charlie, but I’m simply not one of those who anticipate the next 6 weeks with unmitigated glee. I really wish I were. I do! And I wonder exactly when it was that my experiences tipped me over to this pained perspective as there is so much about the holidays that I wistfully admire: cozy, decorated rooms, the ritual baking and fussing in the kitchen, crackling logs and mulled cider, strolls through denuded woods with dramatic shadows cast over the course of a bracing winter afternoon, echoes of laughter that escape as front doors open and close, twinkling lights that merrily proclaim, “Festivity abounds!” All that is awesome.

But, what gets to me more is the resigned expression behind the exhausted smiles. The drive to accomplish too much in too little time with too few dollars. The disappointment felt and silently communicated when the effort Person A expends is not matched by Person B. The weight gain or bank account drain or sense of the dog chasing the tail all over the course of a season now driven by retail numbers, advertising hype, and holiday tv specials that bypass anything more than a superficial nod to the original intent of this season compounded by the politically correct reproof that we can’t call this time of the year anything more specific than a “holiday.”  Boy oh boy, I’m depressing myself.

But here’s where I challenge myself to be creative: instead of being a gloomy gus, I need to seek out whatever joy I can genuinely find in the moment. See how successfully I can surf the holidaze and retain a true sense of calm and gratitude instead of griping and complaint. Because, the truth about life is that it is frenzied and it is competitive and people snipe at one another all the time. This is as true on Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s as it is on any other day. And, it is also true that we are each responsible for our own happiness—I know that every one of you can readily think of people in your life who make themselves unhappy, no matter the circumstances. Is this a trait you admire about them? No, you do not. So, I charge you with turning this around on yourself: how can you make yourself happy and sane during a time when it’s easy to do the opposite? What private pledge might you make to yourself to do what’s necessary to find pleasure and gratitude and to practice emotional generosity and patience at a time of the year when the supply of such qualities runs perilously short?

Part of re-booting requires us to cultivate a calm, appreciative perspective towards our daily existence and the progress we have made on our individual journey. By definition, re-booting means that there has been at least one searing experience in your life which has prompted you to take stock and reevaluate and commit yourself to striving for a better way to live—consider this a significant dividend from your unhappy experience—and you are more humble than you were. This is good. This is right.

In the end, we always have more than whatever we lack. Always. I want you to think about this statement. What does this mean to you? How might this statement help guide you through life’s challenges and disappointments—no matter how grave or distressing? What can you call upon in the midst of the fury or the lonely silence from which you run? I know you have an answer. I know you have a strength upon which you can call—listen for it, seek it out, and utilize it as these next six weeks descend.

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One Response to “Stocking Up for Thanksgiving”

  1. Patrick Ross Says:

    Kudos for recognizing a step you have to take for your own sanity and taking it! Have a great holiday!

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