Thursday, November 26, 2009

Traditions with Meaning

About 10 years ago, I was feeling very Grinch-like about Thanksgiving. I was very aware that year of the issues of hunger and overeating. I didn't relish the idea of spending a holiday knocking myself out in the kitchen and then eating myself into oblivion. What's more, my family didn't enjoy roast turkey or most of the other traditional Thanksgiving foods.

I told Garry I wanted to do something different: fast from dawn until dusk and then sit down to a simple meal that we'd be truly grateful for. My memory is a bit hazy on the details, but I think that Garry and I fasted together the first year. One by one, the children have joined the Thanksgiving fast (usually without telling me they were doing so until they were already well into it).

We gather about an hour before dusk to sit together and give thanks for all the wonderful things in our life. At first, we gathered for silent worship for that hour before dusk, but Malcolm wanted to change it to sharing gratitude. It was so sweet the first year that we've continued to do it that way.

So we find ourselves with a Thanksgiving tradition that is meaningful to us and in alignment with our values. I don't think that I could have designed one that fits us so well or feels so right.

Each member of the family chooses the amount of fasting that feels right. People have done 24-hour fasts or dawn-to-dusk fasts or midnight-to-dusk fasts. I danced this morning, so I'm only fasting from noon until dusk. It's all okay.

I'm grateful for this family tradition. I love the way my husband and children have made it their own. I love that we have our own cherished tradition to celebrate this holiday. I love the transformation of Thanksgiving from a collection of Shoulds into a time for contemplation, prayer, and thanksgiving.

That first step was a doozy. I wanted to fast? On Thanksgiving? Do I always have to be such a contrarian?

It felt right, though, and Garry was with me, so we stepped off the curb.

That is, I think, the price of being truly alive. We can Should ourselves in the Ought house or we can live, authentically, from our center.


Viktoria said...

Excellent, Heather. I just read that at the customary Thanksgiving meal one consumes between 3000 and 6000 calories ... not only out of line with our values in a world where so many people are starving, but also bad for our health.

Viktoria said...

Excellent, Heather. I just read that at a customary Thanksgiving dinner, one consumes between 3000 and 6000 calories, which is not only out of line with our values in a world where so many people are starving, but bad for our health.