Every year, I wait with excited trepidation for November to arrive. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday—by far.
What defines this holiday? For me, at the heart of this holiday is a celebration of abundance. Abundance of love & connection through the ceremony of gratitude. All of the rituals I have ever created were in honor of nurturing these feelings.
Yet, over the years, the rituals have changed. In 2009, this was a crisis of extraordinary proportion for me. I thought that in order for me to experience the joy of the holiday, I had to have the same rituals in place to create those feelings. I believed that my external circumstances fed my feelings.
One month prior to Thanksgiving of that year, I had left my husband. I had left my home, my warm bed and my kitchen where I had made years’ worth of turkeys, pies and candle-light memories.
By choice, I surrendered to melting down that life — at times, with raging flames. And what it left me with that year was no anchor. No same-ness. No ritual.
I could no longer use my go-to rituals that I had nurtured for the past 20 years. They were all gone. And it felt like a hole in my spirit that left a gaping space for a frigid wind to howl through — I could feel the loss and emptiness and I thought it would swallow me whole.
The pain of loss during that holiday was almost unbearable. I spent much of the day grieving the loss of my rituals. Mourning their departure and wondering if I would ever feel joy again for my favorite holiday. Quite honestly, I wanted it over because it was a giant reminder of what I had just chosen. Was I really all-in for this life transformation?
Intellectually I knew that self doubt is a natural part of the change process and yet the “what the heck have I done?” question plagued me throughout the day.
I remember sitting in my room that evening sobbing the most ugly, awkward tears. And I had a moment where in the midst of all the pain a feeling emerged. Even in all of this pain and uncertainty, this feels right. Something inside of me felt joy.
It wasn’t obvious to me at the time, but I later realized that the rituals were not what created joy for me. It was my feelings of love and abundance that were embodied in my rituals. I was my anchor. I could create those same feelings with new rituals. And I was always available to myself to shower me with love and abundance (regardless of whether it was a holiday or not).
That revelation opened up a new pathway for me. I was able to enjoy the change of rituals that followed in a much more peaceful embrace.
It is no longer about the exact ceremony but always about feeding my feelings of love, abundance and connection – in whatever fashion that takes from year to year.
My wish for all of us this year is that same revelation. You are your anchor and whatever feeling you most want to embody this holiday season—it’s already there waiting to shine in whatever ritual or ceremony presents itself.