How divinely wonderful that we have finally entered the two-month season of thanksgiving when our world becomes saturated with the ideals of gratitude, joy, caring, forgiveness, hope, affection and generosity—a season that culminates with the ushering in of a time of renewal and new beginnings. It’s a season when our hearts and minds are stalked by minute-by-minute commercial reminders of this special time to the point that we can’t help but catch the holiday feeling, no matter what’s going on in our lives and the larger world.
This year the holiday sales and decorations were out by mid-October, and I’m expecting to see them out right after Labor Day soon. I have to wonder: Is this a push or a pull? That is, are retailers pushing us into what they hope will be a longer and longer buying season or are we pulling them to lengthen it so we’ll have more time to savor the richness of those holiday ideals? Most of us tend to blame the retail sector, but I think we are complicit, too. I know I love the holiday season, which begins with looking forward to Thanksgiving, but I don’t look forward to January 2, when things settle down and I have to start my new beginnings—although I do get caught up in my pursuit of them. After sucking in my letdown for a minute, it’s time to ramp things back up.
This holiday season bears a unique burden, as well as significance, and we’re meeting it with a rare attitude of anticipation. With 220,000-plus Americans absent from the upcoming family gatherings due to COVID-19, and millions more whose ability to support themselves and their families is either at risk or gone, we are all suffering to some degree because we are all touched by the loss.
The significance of this season lies in our individual willingness to bring forth the best of those ideals— gratitude, joy, caring, forgiveness, hope, affection, generosity—and put them in action with and for each other. While our society is more divided than ever, I believe that the pendulum must now swing the other way and our God-given, innate humanity must now come to the fore. During this season that begins with being thankful and ends with new beginnings, we simply can’t deny that we are all created in each other’s image, which is God’s image. As our instruction manual, the Bible, tells us, we are recipients of the gift of His character. What is Godly character? It is loving care for every other living thing, including plants and animals. It is grace shared generously with those who don’t look or act like you, mercy given to those you may consider undeserving, forgiveness of those you feel have wronged you. It is wild, crazy, unexplainable compassion in action—like when Mark Cuban reached out to Delonte West, and the many similar acts that never make the news.
In this season of giving thanks, will you join me in a challenge: a wild, crazy, unexplainable act of compassion that can take different shapes? It may be serving at a homeless or domestic violence center, or giving so generously that it stretches your own means, or driving down the street or to a community center with a vehicle full of Christmas gifts, like Shaquille O’Neal, and handing them out to children who may otherwise receive nothing because their families are struggling. There is so much to be done, so much that can be done—and everyone can do something. It doesn’t have to be done at the celebrity level; it just has to be done with a loving heart.
Something else generous and compassionate we can all do is lighten up our Thanksgiving fare and encourage our friends and family to do the same. Lighter, healthier versions of the traditional dishes can be amazingly delicious. My family is always waiting expectantly for me to arrive at our dinners with my special collard greens cooked with olive oil, turkey parts and a dash of stevia, rather than the traditional “hard stuff”, and I’ve learned to leave some behind for myself, because there’s never any left over to bring back. In this month’s issue of Natural Awakenings, April Thompson offers her healthy take on some Thanksgiving staples, and North Texas’ own Katherine Ireland, founder of Food Save Me, shares a couple of her favorite lighter seasonal recipes.
This issue is chock full of information that will inspire you to pursue the ideals of the holiday season and to help you live your healthiest life, physically and emotionally, on a healthy planet. We hope you enjoy it.
Blessings until next month.