Thanksgiving has a fraught history, so each year I try to remember what is important about this holiday: the history of the people and beings who lived on this land where I live, for eons past, the things that are available to me in my own life, including those I cannot hold in my hand like the freedom and breath and love, the bounty of this planet and this universe.
In my Green Beans article in November, I wrote of seeing what we have, appreciation, receiving, and giving. There is one more thing that I did not touch on: honoring.
Like honoring native peoples, including our own ancestors, and decolonizing – this is a day of mourning for Native Peoples, sometimes celebrated instead as the First Nations Day of Resilience. This link covers many aspects of our Thanksgiving celebrations as well as history. You can also hear about the history of this day here and here.
Like honoring the planet, with our food and cultural choices.
Like being mindful of our relationships and of ourselves.
Looking through the lens of gratitude, we start to take note of ordinary things: the way the throw drapes on the couch, a loved one’s eyelashes, the smell of home when we walk in the door. We slowly become unhabituated to our daily lives, and breathe it in more deeply.
I will later write about my own experience of gratitude, which has been a guide for me this month. Gratitude has many benefits: a longer life and less pain, fostering happiness, better health, improved friendships, less stress. Notably, many of these are also benefits of mindfulness in general. Gratitude can be a more accessible form of mindfulness for some, by using a journal or simply starting your meal with a gratitude circle.
On Thanks giving, I am letting the appreciation pour out of me, but this time, with a sense of honoring what needs to be honored.