It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
I awoke at dawn on Friday. The early morning, like my home, was dark and quiet.
I looked out my kitchen window as I brewed my coffee. I always look at the same tree in my backyard whenever I’m feeling off balance or out of sorts. It has been an inspiration for me as long as I’ve lived in my home.
When there were wildfires in California earlier this fall, I looked out at my tree in what felt like slow motion. Several of its beautiful branches came crashing to the ground. I was told it was just too hot outside and that the branches buckled under the weight of the heat. I held my breath as I watched them fall. I thought the entire tree might fall before my very eyes. I was already mentally preparing for what I would do without it.
I tell this story because, in some way, I think many of us are holding our breath right now waiting for something to fall. We are preparing for things to keep changing, or to live without something we love.
This week, what has changed is how we celebrate Thanksgiving. We are worried what will happen to us without our usual gatherings. We get down thinking about what it will be like without our extended family or friends gathered around us.
As many of you know, Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It involves everything I love: family, friends, food, fun, traditions. Some of my best memories are from this week and this holiday. I look forward to it all year. Looking forward to it is actually what helped me get through parts of this year. I kept thinking to myself, I can’t wait for Thanksgiving. Let’s just get through this time and all will be well by November.
Now, here we are.
Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on everyone’s lives this year, and now it’s raging into our Thanksgiving. It’s forcing all of us to break traditions. It’s forcing us all to rethink and reimagine how we do things and how we celebrate with our loved ones.
Not too long ago, I was walking with a friend who told me that each of her Zoom recovery meetings starts with a prayer called “Just for Today.” She told me that the prayer goes something like this:
Just for today, my thoughts will be on those who love me
Just for today, my thoughts are on my recovery
Just for today, my thoughts are on my blessings
Just for today, my thoughts are on one thing I’m grateful for
The prayer, she told me, is a reminder that if we start each day by living for today, then all will be okay. Stop worrying about a day that hasn’t even happened yet, she said. Focus on today, then get to tomorrow and do it all over again.
So on Friday as I stared at my favorite tree, I said to myself, “Just for today, I’m going to focus on the fact that I’m still going to have Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not going to think about the way it used to be. I’m going to focus instead on what it can be.”
A few moments later, my daughter, Katherine, texted me a picture of her stepson, Jack, who had been up since 3 a.m. making presents for Thanksgiving. He had written cards and wrapped things up to send to those he loves. In a video my daughter took of him, he talked about how excited he was for Thanksgiving. Then, just a few minutes later, my youngest son, Christopher, texted me to tell me how excited he is for Thanksgiving.
So will Thanksgiving be the same as in years’ past? No. But it will still be what it is: my favorite holiday. I know that five years from now, I’ll be able to look back on this day and tell my grandchildren about how Thanksgiving during the pandemic was a special one. I’ll say to them, “Let me tell you all about it. Let me tell you about the food. Let me tell you about the cherished moments with our closest family. Let me tell you about how we made it different, and how even though it was different, it was okay.”
As the light came up Friday morning, I looked out at my tree again. It looks so different from the way it used to look, but somehow it looks even more beautiful than it did before. It’s still standing. It’s still majestic. It’s still here.
That’s kind of how I feel about myself. I’m still standing. My loved ones are still here. We’re all majestic. So let’s make this Thanksgiving one for the record books.
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Dear God, I know that this week, Thanksgiving will feel different than in the past, but let me embrace that. Allow me to be present in this moment and grateful for what I have now. Amen.
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