This cottonwood tree illumined by light in our late fall hear in the North Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, creates a brilliance yet also a shadow. We humans also have brilliance within us yet often let the shadow part of ourselves be all that is shared with those around us. How can you share your illumined self this Thanksgiving?

More and more, I am noticing how I return to my illumined self. Living in New Mexico and working for the Indian Health Service have opened my eyes to challenges facing Native Americans. I have been made aware of how Thanksgiving is viewed by those whose ancestors were firstborn on the land now called the United States of America. This day of giving thanks is a mixed experience for them. It is a day off for them to be with family, but it also is a symbol of the presence of those who took the land from them. I have become more sensitive in how I greet the Native American children and families I see via telehealth during this time of year. Yet, I do share with them that I hope that the holiday is a positive family experience for them and that gratitude is a part of the picture for them.

As we face many challenges to the democracy that we have known, this day of thanksgiving is an opportunity to live up to the values being grateful and to be inclusive of all who share this land. What a wonderful opportunity it is.

More in common with each other than not

As a people, we have so much more in common than we have differences. What matters to each person who has a family is the love and the caring, a sense of community, of being together. This is true, no matter what the person’s race, sex, or religion. Making an effort to travel to see one another is no small endeavor in this expansive country, yet this is the most traveled of all holidays. We all see the importance of getting together. Sharing the food and the special recipes as well as new recipes adds to the joy and warmth of coming together. Of course, football is also a common denominator in many families!

Yet, many are increasingly alone in this new world that we live in. Consider inviting a friend or colleague you know who may be far away from family or have no family to your gathering.

An act of kindness will not be forgotten

I remember when I was working in New Zealand in the fall of 2002 that I, along with several others from the USA as well as locals, was invited to a Thanksgiving meal. It was on a Saturday as Thanksgiving is not celebrated there. Each of us was tasked to find all the tastes and flavors we are familiar with this holiday. Someone succeeded in finding turkey breast or two but not a whole turkey. Making a pumpkin pie was relatively easy for me but the Kiwis eat pumpkin like a vegetable, so the locals were puzzled by the pie as it was sweet. We had a good laugh over this. It was such a lovely gathering, making me less homesick.

This is a time for sharing and caring. I do hope you are able to share what you have to offer with those you love or seek out those who are in need of some company and inclusion. Creating a community that matters to you can happen. Create the family of your choosing…. of neighbors and friends who care for you as you are. What a gift that is!

Name five gifts to be grateful

Think of five things you are grateful for before Thanksgiving arrives and share them with your co-workers or people you interact within the community. Of course, share them with those you share Thanksgiving Day.

Five things I am grateful for:

  • A loving family, near and far
  • Opportunities to practice healthy boundaries in my work and in my personal life
  • Community with progressive health care practitioners
  • My yoga practice on and off the mat
  • Walks on my favorite acequia in the North Valley in New Mexico

 

 

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