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Daily practice

Today being Thanksgiving, I find that I am less inclined to light the chalice and do our evening thankfulness ritual. That may seem counterintuitive, but somehow I feel like the day in its traditional form, although wonderful in many ways as a time to gather, is not adequately about gratitude. If there is any tradition of thankfulness around the table, it comes in the form of a blessing before eating, or a forced go-around-the-table-and-say-something-for-which-you’re-thankful. Those are the worst, at least in the gatherings I’ve experienced. It makes me want to shake off the anxious feeling going around the room of get-this-over-with, even as I write about it now.

Why are we anxious about being thankful? Because gratitude is a very pure emotion, piercing facades and getting right to priorities – and priorities can and will be judged. Because gratitude admits that we aren’t superhuman, and that our lives might be lacking in some way without the people and things for whom we are thankful. Because we’re afraid that there is a right way and a wrong way to be thankful, and we might not choose well. And because we’re out of practice.

The truth is that those anxieties fade away when we practice gratitude daily. We get used to sharing real feelings and we recognize our priorities in new ways. Ritualizing gratitude raises our awareness of all the people and things on which we depend on a daily basis, which makes us more comfortable with our place in the web of life instead of being the star around which everything must, or must appear to, revolve. Practicing thankfulness means we get better at it, and less afraid of doing it wrong. And maybe it is one step towards identifying the people in our lives who love us for the paths we’ve chosen, and not in spite of them. Being thankful with those folks is hard to mess up.

So, I am just as thankful on this day as any other, despite my jaded wish to dissociate myself a bit from the holiday. And so we light our chalice. Tonight B was thankful for the precious friends we traveled to see for Thanksgiving. I am thankful for our time with them, too, for the abundance we shared, and despite my ranting, for the occasion that brought us together.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Hanging on

Tonight, when I joined him for our evening thankfulness ritual, B had other things on his mind. He had decided that his room needed rearranging, and so we sat in the middle of the room coming up with ideas. He was amazed that I would be willing to part with a cool little retro desk I had salvaged from the side of the road some time ago & repainted for his room, and to take down a petite shelf that he’d had from birth. It made me remember how surprised I often was, and how grateful, when my dad was willing to walk away from something into which he had put time to follow me through a new stage in life. I particularly remember asking to put away a doll house he had worked on with me. So it felt like a gift I could give that had been given to me when I was able to act like it was no big deal. I suppose it was also easy because B cared how it might make me feel.

So, after some scheming and planning, B said he was thankful tonight for being able to arrange and rearrange his room. Practically before he finished that thought, though, he suddenly reached out and pushed my hair back from my face and said “You have so much gray hair!” as he inspected my hairline. This led to some careful calculations regarding how old I would be when he was 20, 30, and 40. He actually said “Can you please just try to hang on until then?” (meaning 40, at which point I’ll be 74, God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, as they say).

Yes dear, I will try to hang on, and I will
look for a new hair dye in the mean time.

For my part, I was thankful tonight for the awesomeness of Raven’s player Brendon Ayanbadejo’s vocal platform on equal marriage rights.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Mamusha

B’s dad’s grandmother, who we call Mamusha, is 94 years old and has been going quite strong until recently. Yesterday we learned that she is in Intensive Care with an infection. During our evening thankfulness ritual, I said I was thankful for Mamusha. B said “Yeah. Me too.”

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Ugly poetry

Open house is coming up at B’s school, and he and all the other cherubs have to memorize a poem, each. B’s is called My Ugly Dog. It’s a really negative poem trying to be cute, and he doesn’t like it. So, tonight when we did our thankfulness ritual, he said “I am thankful and not thankful for poetry. What are you thankful for?” “Medicine”, I said, through my foggy, sick brain.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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