lights-1088141_1920For Americans, gratitude is central to Thanksgiving, a time for prayers shared with family and friends alike.

It is the most traveled time of the year and probably the most egalitarian of our holidays … yet it is not.

Not until I started to work for Indian Health Service this past few years did I fully understand Thanksgiving was a mixed holiday for the Native Americans here in the U.S.

It symbolically marks the time that their beautiful and magnificent land was invaded by foreigners.

We are a land of foreigners whose families may or may not have chosen to come here. Often the promise was the freedom this land offered.

Our founding fathers and mothers (many women were involved with the American Revolution, such as Betsy Ross) ensured us the opportunity to continue to experience freedom of expression.

My own father, brother and grandparents immigrated here due to the opportunity offered here after losing their land to communist Yugoslavia. Many others are seeking asylum again as their freedoms are stripped away and conflict tears their own countries apart.

The contrasts continue. This time – and the Advent season that follows – marks a time for overindulging in various foods and this continues for the next several weeks.

Yet, we have choices to not engage at the level that is maybe imposed upon us via our family, friends or the media. Consider what is best for your health and well being now…not in five weeks.

Partake but with moderation and listen to what your body is capable of handling. The steps toward health start with small steps in that direction; the mind is most happy when there is a steadiness in the change of habits and then is less rebellious.

The holiday season marks the time to consider gifts for family, friends and co-workers. Here, again, be present at a level that works for you.  

I heard a lovely way to share in a fun and inexpensive way on the radio…consider sharing a series of poems that inspire you on special paper that is rolled and tied with a bow. 

What a simple gift that keeps giving long after the holiday passes. Share in a way that is supportive and loving for you. If you come from this place of gratitude, consider how that is a gift enough for those around you.

Gratitude can simply be the theme that carries you through the season, and this can continue into the New Year. Practice gratitude as soon as you take the first breath in the morning… What a gift it is and is so automatic and always present for us.

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