This is a guest post by Joe Durepos.
I remember hearing the great Jungian psychologist and writer James Hillman say families are dangerous, they can kill you. I know he was being provocative. But I’m going to suggest that this Thanksgiving you try not to live out the unlived lives of anyone not attending your festivities. Instead, be conscious and present, be in your body, pay attention to the people around you, and how they’re doing. Avoid any unwelcome family dysfunction.
As we gather with our families and friends this year, be mindful there are always emotional dynamics at play. So be clear and gentle with yourself and others. Someone, usually the wife and mother, will be working herself ragged to make sure everyone else enjoys a perfect feast. Be sure you thank her, be sure you help her. If you see folks getting stressed, be the peacemaker not the provoker. Model genuine appreciation and love.
If you’re lucky enough to celebrate Thanksgiving in a warm and dry place with people who care about you and more food than then you can possibly eat–this means you’re one of the lucky ones–don’t feel bad about it, be thankful.
Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday, none of the stress of Christmas or the pressure to over-socialize at New Year’s. It’s really a brilliant opportunity to unlock the secret at the heart of all great spiritual traditions–to give thanks; to live with gratitude. What could be simpler? What could be more profound or life-changing?
Save some stuffing for me.