It is with sincere appreciation for fellow Nazrudin Project member and author, Dr. Ed Jacobsen, that I share with you (with permission) the following post:
When I think of an abundant Thanksgiving, I think first of food. Then my mind goes to the people who have gathered together. Whether it’s a small family dinner, a large group of friends and family, or a gigantic church dinner, there’s generally good cheer and at the very least a temporary cease-fire. We tacitly agree to put aside our differences and our weapons of mass reactivity. We break bread together, instead of bristling at Aunt Maud or grimly tolerating cousin Max.
We enjoy the good fellowship while we can. Someone is likely to say that we should do this more often, and not just on our national Turkey Day. Instead of simply nodding your agreement, respond instead with,
“What a wonderful idea! How can we make that happen?”
See what energies arise, both in you and others. Maybe a couple of you who have energy around the idea can nominate yourselves as the group to make it happen. It only takes a couple of committed people. Recall Margaret Mead’s classic statement:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Thinking more about an Abundant Thanksgiving Day, I think about gratitude and thanksgiving, and then about the people who spend Thanksgiving Day either alone, in prison, or in the hospital. Then I call to mind people on a street in a far-off land or, with alarming frequency, in our cities and even our rural areas. It’s a stretch for some of us (myself included) to hold the uncomfortable paradox of being surrounded by abundance while knowing that others near and far are so much less blessed materially. I wonder how other people make peace with that paradox, while at the same time asking someone to pass that fabulous-looking stuffing.
This Thursday at Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I intend to verbally acknowledge our own bounty and others’ lesser material abundance, and vow to do more to contribute somehow more to these unknown others’ well-being.
How might we honor the spirit of giving thanks this year in a way that does two things:
- Creates as much appreciation as we can stand and
- Addresses the question, How can we get more of this sense of appreciation, more days of the year?
Here are a couple of rituals of appreciation and abundance for today:
- The host or other Designated Appreciator (the D.A., for short) can tap a glass with a spoon, get everyone’s attention, and propose the following: “Could we capture the spirit of Thanksgiving by going around the table (or the room), and each one of us saying
- two or three things that you feel especially grateful or thankful for today and
- a person or group—the homeless, Syrian refugees, the imprisoned–who may be in want today.”
And the host or the D.A. models the process by going first, thereby making it safe for people to be personal (and even profound) in their declarations. When everyone who wishes to has taken a turn, it might be appropriate for the D.A. to add, “I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about what we could do to have that sense of gratitude or thankfulness not just today, but more of the time?” And just wait. See what thoughts and insights are offered. If none arise, the D.A. might offer their own thoughts, and leave it at that. And then, of course, pass the stuffing.
- Alternatively, the host or D.A. can suggest after dinner (if a football game isn’t on the TV and if everyone isn’t in the throes of a Tryptophan-induced nap) that folks share stories about a time during the past year when they felt especially blessed, in whatever area of their life. Depending on the size of the gathering, it may be best not to go around the room. It might more comfortable and lead to a deeper experience to gather in threes or fours, and give each person a couple or three minutes to tell their story to the listeners, whose job is simply to listen.
Afterwards, the D.A. might gather everyone together again and say, “Wow! Here are some things I learned in listening,” relate what he heard, and wait to see who else wants to share.
Above all, know that we at American Business Advisors are deeply thankful for you, our readers, on this national day of Thanksgiving!