The holidays have such a profound effect on most people. There are those that rue the season, while others revel in the shopping, cooking, decorating, gift wrapping and celebrating with friends and family. On one end of the spectrum you find some embracing the whole idea of celebrating family and friends, and on the other end you find those who feel forced into doing something they wouldn’t normally do nor want to do. Most of us, I think, fall somewhere in the middle.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it is all about gathering with family and friends, sharing a meal, a story, and heartfelt time together. It isn’t about the gifts, because choosing the right gift can be stressful, or what was given or received. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. Its about stepping back from the rush of everyday life and recognizing the joy and benefits, life and those around you, have bestowed upon you.
I love hosting Thanksgiving at my home. We have a very large family (50+) who come from far and wide to spend this one day together, before heading off in other directions. It is a day filled with hugs and kisses from the many beautiful souls who walk into my kitchen, checking out the day’s fare.
Starting on Monday before Thanksgiving, I begin my preparation. Monday and Tuesday are busy with making and checking lists, shopping and the first baked dessert. On Wednesday, 2 or 3 of my sisters come to help prepare a variety of foods to be cooked the next day or that day, plus the baking of a couple more desserts, and chopping whatever needs to be chopped for the next day. Thursday is a whirlwind of activities prior to everyone’s arrival, which of course, includes my children and grandchildren. Once the family begins to arrive, the warmth of the tradition and all it represents begins to unfold. Plates are filled and carried to a table where true family sharing and caring can be witnessed. How very blessed we are as a family, and my husband and I am as the host.
It is during this time of the year that my heart begins to swell with emotion for how fortunate I am and how unfortunate some families may be at this time. To feed such a large group is costly, no doubt; but I have been blessed to be able to do that. I have found over the years that it doesn’t take much money or effort to place a good hot meal on a family’s table. It is heart warming to be able to bring aid and a little comfort to those that need a little extra helping hand.
For years the Cedar Water Healing Lodge has offered a hand to those in need, whether it was to help heal a physical, emotional or spiritual wound, ease someone’s pain, provide gifts, food, guidance, or simply a place to sit, meditate, or rest one’s weary bones. As a healer, my goal is to support, assist and educate those who seek my help and service. This help is not dependent upon a particular time of year … it is always available and given in earnest. And, this same philosophy has permeated throughout the Lodge’s community. This is a community of people who have come to know, understand and quite often teach the gift of giving.
Too often a gift is given with unseen strings attached; an expectation of what may be returned. If I give this to you, then at some point I will receive something back from you. (You owe me.) As well, sometimes when someone repeatedly gives a gift to another, the generosity of the gift may become diminished, if not forgotten or expected. Don’t worry about the money, when your pain reaches a certain threshold, come and see me, and I will do what I can to help ease that pain. (After a period of time the help is expected, no longer a gift.)
It is a gift to be able to give; and, to give a gift without expectation is a gift of generosity. It is a gift that comes from the heart. It is a gift that is given without anticipation or the prospect of receiving anything in return. It is simply a benevolent act of compassion, kindness and generosity. A gift of generosity is often met with awe; the receiver is often stunned or taken back by the goodness and unselfishness of the giver. It is an act of deep healing, not only for the receiver but for the giver as well.
Take some time this holiday season to give gifts of generosity. And while you are at it, give a gift of generosity to someone you do not know, who may be a little less fortunate than you. It will warm your heart, bring a smile to your face, and remind you of the true spirit of the holidays.