With Thanksgiving approaching, I've felt an annually familiar sense of dread building. There's something about this time of year that feels comforting as well as frightening, a sort of eerie feeling of impending doom amidst the beauty and grace of red and falling leaves, pomegranates, and crisp air.
But this year, rather than pushing that eerie feeling away as I have done in years past, I decided to pull it closer. I asked it, and myself, why I tend to resist this holiday so tightly. Why I'm unable to fall completely into the dry air; the gifts of warm food and welcoming homes, and the time and space for reflection and relaxation.
It's because, as a child, this was always a stressful collision of a holiday for me. Always straddled between two worlds, with one immigrant parent and the other from a history steeped in American tradition-- and with the ceremonial meal the battleground upon which cultures advance and stake claim, the Thanksgiving meal represented, to me, the clashing of these opposing forces of influence and inspiration. Not to mention the feelings I have about the mass slaughter of birds.
What a realization. For years, I'd been refusing to allow myself to acknowledge this plain and simple truth-- that this holiday is confusing, uncomfortable, and, stressful. And reminds me of the pain and plight of so many that have come before me, as well as those around us now who struggle to have enough. Instead, I've found myself feeling irritable, tense, and uneasy in the days leading up to the fourth Thursday of November.
So, this matters because-- finally, having realized this, I can see that the past is not necessarily destined to become the present. I can approach this holiday with this new perspective, recognizing the uncomfortable feelings as they come up and knowing what they are and why I'm carrying them with me. But I can also choose to bring my awareness to new elements of this holiday, ones that I haven't been able to dive into fully.
I'm sharing my insight of the last week in the hopes that it can inspire you to do the same; to ponder this question-- what happens if we stop turning away? What might we uncover?