The Days after Thanksgiving – Time for Your Real Thankfulness
In my years of being a psychotherapist I’ve been honored to work with many people who reveal and discover their true feeling during holidays. As we share and explore together we find the core gratitude within that enhances daily life and enriches their holiday experience. Perhaps some of what we’ve found will deepen and enrich your experience too.
The Thanksgiving holiday is over. You may reflect on:
- The joyous sharing of shopping, cooking and laying out a beautiful table for friends and family has passed to clean up time and leftovers.
- The delight of loving and being loved through laughter, storytelling and eating favorite foods together.
- The inner glow as you look at the people you care about knowing you all have weathered and come through stormy times.
- The bittersweet pleasure of seeing how children are growing and adults are aging and honoring those changes with your heart.
- The arrivals and departures, the packing up leftovers to take home, the hugs and plans for the future.
- The squabbling and wearing a pretend smile to get through the tension of being with people where old grudges, resentments and unpaid or unrecognized debts crate walls of tension and disturb digestion during the feast.
- The stark and cold loneliness that ate at your heart and mind when you called no one and no one called you, when the days of Thanksgiving rolled past you in your isolation.
- The desperate day of finding anyone who was as alone as you so you could come together as a pretend family to share loneliness in a forced Thanksgiving.
- The otherworldliness of being with a small or large group friendly people enjoying Thanksgiving while you quietly harbored grief or pain that you couldn’t share.
- The strange day of donating your time and energy to help feed the poor and homeless in a community project. People of all ages, perhaps looking at more food on their plate than they had seen for weeks, children eating with a dazed look on their faces, grizzled men touched by your politeness and practical women asking for plastic bags to carry food home to meals in the next few days. The smiles, the bewildered faces, your fantasies of the world from which they came to be there, and the difference between your life and theirs touched you in surprising ways.
- A few moments of Skyping or facetiming with loved ones far away and perhaps in danger.
Often people find ways to share their gratitude with each other in a public way.
- Did you hold hands around the table and express your gratitude one and at time?
- Did you write your gratitude on a slip of paper and dropped the paper in a basket so later, one by one, they all could be read aloud?
- Did you have conversations, one on one, where you mentioned what you were thankful for?
- Or was your imagination dry and your heart cold to any possible feeling of gratitude?
Now that you are on the other side of the Day of Thanksgiving, with no pressure from your culture or your community, you can discover your real thankfulness.
Some of you maybe thankful for having survived another Thanksgiving, joyous or not. If that’s you, then I invite you to look beneath those words for the deeper meaning.
I’m thankful for:
- Being alive.
- Breathing in and out.
- For new beginnings that are possible for me with every breath and every day.
- For my ability to tolerate what life presents.
- For the awareness that my heart can open my mind to others and bring compassion to us all, perhaps slowly but there it is.
- For personal pain that expands my empathy for others.
- For healing and nourishing sleep when I am tired.
- For my ability to see and taste and touch and hear and move even if some of those abilities are memories.
- For the world around me with all the living beings it contains to always offer me a second chance to view everything anew, to learn and offer what I can, even when I’m not quite ready to offer anything yet.
- For my ability to heal and to forgive.
- For my ability to respond to the wonder of life and see beauty in unexpected places.
Holidays bring us expectations built by family, our social circles and by our culture itself. We need to find our strength and courage to dive below those images and demands. Then we can reveal to ourselves the personal meaning we believe that lies within the holiday. Diving deep below the thick crust of surface expectations can lead us to our personal inner wisdom that guides us well throughout our lives.
Psychotherapy with Joanna
*pix By Ezequiel Chaves - Imported from 500px (archived version) by the Archive Team. (detail page), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73673022
To explore and discover your strength and values, read Healing Your Hungry Heart.