There are billions of tiny acts that create suffering in the world—acts of ignorance, greed, violence. But in the same way, each act of caring—all the billion tiny ways that we offer compassion, wisdom, and joy to one another—serves as a preservative and healing agent.
~ Ram Dass, Being Ram Dass
Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.
~ David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
Thanksgiving was a different holiday for us this year, as it was for many. We Zoomed with family in the morning. There were smiles, laughter, love, and shared gratitude. It was, as always, lovely to see all of their beautiful faces. We might be getting a bit burnt out on Zoom and other video chats, but I have to admit that I like the way I can really look at people’s faces and expressions. There is nothing else to distract me from that. I don’t know if that is everyone’s experience. I hope so. It in no way replaces actually being with the people I love, but it’s one of the positives about the experience.
After the Zoom family gathering, M and I worked together in the kitchen getting the turkey and stuffing ready to go into the oven. I don’t know why I decided I wanted to cook a turkey and all the trimmings this year. Perhaps I thought it would make it feel more holiday-like. As we worked together, several things ran through my mind. The first is how well we share the work. We always have and after 44 years of marriage, we still do. We make a good team.
There were other lovely and loving thoughts along with feelings of gratitude as we got on with the business of putting together our meal. Then it occurred to me that this was one of the most stress-free holidays I’ve experienced in a long, long time. I didn’t feel any of the (often self-imposed) pressure to get everything perfect. If the timing of the different foods came together at the right time, so be it. If they didn’t, so be it. Neither one of us cared what time we ate or if we’d have to wait for something to finish cooking before it all came together for the meal.
We took a couple of walks, one before the big meal and one after. M watched some football. Not because he cared, he said, but because it’s a tradition. I read, answered some emails that were long overdue to be answered, and played with the cats. No rushing around, no politics, no old hurts or disagreements, and no relatives who may have overindulged in adult beverages. Simply a relaxing day, once the meal was cooked, eaten, and cleaned up. Even all of that was easier to do since we were feeding fewer people.
I don’t mean to say, or even imply, that I’d rather spend the holidays isolated from family. That’s not true at all. However, I did see things from another perspective. For so many, the holidays are loaded with land mines and heavy baggage that we carry around with us. When I spend time with family on vacation or visits that are not holiday visits, there is much less of that going around. I’m not exactly sure why that is but I’d venture to guess that many of us have this perfect picture of the holidays in our heads, a Norman Rockwellian kind of thing, even if we’re not conscious of it. High and almost impossible expectations inevitably lead to disappointment.
We did have big plans for this year. Last year, on Thanksgiving Day, I sent out invitations to pretty much the whole family (including my four siblings along with their spouses and families, my father, M’s sister, and of course our sons, their spouses and their children). We reserved cabins at a local state park and had figured out the logistics of having everyone in our home, probably scattered about for seating purposes since there would be so many. The main reason for the big gathering was so my father, who is 90 years old, could be with everyone in one place at one time.
We cancelled the cabin reservations about a month ago. We bought a smallish turkey (the smallest we could find was 12 lbs.). We Zoomed or talked on the phone with some of our family. And we were profoundly grateful to be able to do that.
I made a long list of things I am grateful for and in doing so, clearly saw how blessed I am. I make small gratitude lists on an almost daily basis. The goal was to do it daily, but you know how that is. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. It is better, I think, to do it when you can truly feel the gratitude in your heart. Otherwise, the list comes without any real awareness and might not have any more meaning than a to-do list.
I’ve started thinking about my word for the year. (People who have been visiting my blog(s) for a long time might remember that I start my new year on the Winter Solstice.) That will mean, eventually, a wrap-up post of last year’s word. Maybe. It was, at times, a difficult word. It is a word that might even sum up a good part of this year. The word is Surrender. (The post in which I wrote a little about it is here.) I did not officially adopt it as my word of the year, but it did seem to adopt me, even after I tried to change it with the word Rewilding. There might be a form of surrender in rewilding. I think there probably is. At any rate, it was without a doubt the perfect word for interesting times. More on that soon.
Thank you so much for visiting with me today. I know I promised more images of the wild horses, and I intend to keep that promise. There is a story I want to tell you first, a rather sad story, which I’ll save for my Monday meander post. In the meantime, let’s meet out at the Point for sunset. Sunset is schedule for 4:44 PM. It’s breezy, but not too cold. In the 60’s today. A light jacket will be good. I’ll be there early. M and I rode our bikes out to the Point this morning and people have been trashing the place so we’ll go with our gloves, our picker-uppers, and our trash can, and do some cleaning up. And oh! Speaking of cleaning up… An update on the cleaning and decluttering for the Holy: We went through our Christmas ornaments and decorations yesterday and today. We had quite a few boxes of things up in the attic. Much of it will be given away to family or donated.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,621) A new phone. My old one (old enough that I don’t remember when I got it) has been letting me know that it was time to let go and buy a new one. The new one is nothing fancy or expensive, but the claim was that the camera was better than on the old one. I don’t know. I barely see a difference in the photos. But I do see a big difference in how the phone behaves. My old one was locking up and shutting itself down all the time. The new one doesn’t do that. Now all I have to do is sit down and delete a bunch of apps I don’t want, add some apps I do want, and I’ll be good to go. 1,622) A beautiful, sunny day with interesting clouds passing through. 1,623) Blue hair. I colored it yesterday. It’s more turquoise than the cobalt blue I thought it would be. 1,624) A lovely bike ride to the Point and back. 1,625) The memories we discovered when we sorted through the Christmas ornaments and decorations.