Some days it feels like I'm drowning in alternating seas of snarky cynicism or over-polished commercialism, and that is never more overwhelming than around holidays. Some days I just want to throw my hands up and say "fine! Nothing is good, or worthy, or perfect, so I won't celebrate anything because I'm going to get something wrong, or offend someone, or not offend enough people, or something." But today, I'm going to realize that the only thing I can control is myself, and that change starts with one person. So I am going to ignore the snark on one side and the hype on the other, and reclaim my favorite holiday for the joy that it can bring.
For me, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and welcome. It's about being present with people you love, or showing love to people you don't know very well. It's sharing food with family, playing games or watching movies, or going for a long walk or hike. Whatever it is you enjoy doing together. It's about sharing a meal with people who have no family, creating a community where you are. It's about reaching out, gathering in, and being thankful. And to me, Thanksgiving is about finding some inner rest -- embracing a season in which nature pauses and just takes a break after a season of working really hard.
It's a potluck lunch with people whose family live scattered across the country, each person bringing their favorite family dish and then getting to enjoy other families' traditions as you share your own.
It's grilling bratwurst on a balmy day at the beach, when it's just you and a couple of other friends. It's not the number, it's the company.
It's 25 people packed around tables spread in the backyard -- being included in a big family gathering because your family lives far away.
It's aunts, uncles, cousins, and a foreign exchange student from Switzerland. Pie, card games, and some low-key football outside.
It's all-day games, movie marathons, and music.
It's meeting someone the week before who has no Thanksgiving plans, and inviting them to your home.
It's sharing, giving, and being grateful. Celebrating sometimes, and sometimes just trying to find any reason to give thanks. It's remembering those who aren't there, and sometimes being a little sad.
Whatever form your Thanksgiving takes, may you find what you need, give what you can, and enjoy it!