You may have already heard my story about what Thanksgiving was like for me when I was a devout atheist, especially during my younger years when I still gathered together with my family of origin.
Thanksgiving was about food, pure and simple. It was an opportunity to indulge in my eating disorder and not stand out from everyone else since this once-a-year day gave everyone license to stuff their faces. And, from the spiritual standpoint… well, there was none! There was no prayer, no saying grace, no going around the table with each person sharing what they were thankful for or who they were thankful to. With that environment, without a higher power, I would think, Who is there to thank?... I’ve been the one to create my life (such as it is), thank you very much. Of course, I appreciated that my parents had provided me with the basic necessities of life, but somehow I knew that Thanksgiving was about something deeper than that.
Well, everything changed when I “came to believe.” Thanksgiving became a sacred day for me personally. Learning how to live life via a 12 Step program, my idea about people, the world, and myself shifted dramatically. Now I had a higher power and life was so much more fulfilling, I was a better person for the world; my eating disorder was a gateway to a new universe. And, not only did I see I’d not run my life solely by my own willpower, but I had had Some Thing to be thankful for and grateful to.
Gathering together for a Thanksgiving meal was not so much about the food anymore, but the people, my family of choice, and truly counting my blessings and expressing gratitude for others and my higher power, Spirit. It was about thanking Spirit that I had found Program; had found a way out of the insanity of my eating disorder; was now cultivating relationships where people really cared about me; and, so much more. There was so very much to be thankful for and grateful to! Also, I learned I could express gratitude through being of service, helping others—gratitude in action—a way to thank Spirit.
I have re-read my November 2020 newsletter
, written about eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic and after Thanksgiving Day, but I had still expressed gratitude. In my closing, I stated, “I trust you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday, one quite different from last year and probably the one to come. 2020 has flown by despite the circumstances we have had to endure, and now we find ourselves on the precipice of a year that was historic in a variety of ways.”
So much for my thinking Thanksgiving 2021 would be quite different from 2020! For me, the holiday is pretty much going to be like last year, alone at home, not surrounded by others. It seems that not much has changed regarding the pandemic as life is still far from being full of socialization in a ‘normal’ manner. Nevertheless, I feel gratitude and feel like celebrating! I do so enjoy my own company(!) and Spirit is always with me, not dependent on Life’s circumstances; for It, I am most grateful.
To be clear, I don't need to wait for a special day to give thanks, and I don't. Gratitude is a way of life, a commitment I make to find the good, the blessings in all circumstances. Throughout the day I keep a mindful eye out for the good, and in the evening I write in a special gratitude journal ten items from the day for which I am grateful. They can be related to people, material things, my emotional state—anything!
I wish you a Thanksgiving holiday, and every day, that is meaningful and in which you can count the many blessings that are always there.
When I first heard the song "May the Light of Love" about 15 years ago, I immediately knew it was music I wanted to incorporate into Thanksgiving gatherings. I’ve not been able to do so as often as I would have liked and I am delighted to get to share it with you now; I hope you enjoy the lyrics
and the music, and find it meaningful.