It was President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 who gave us our November day of thanks. Though many look back a couple centuries further to a feast shared by Pilgrims and Native American Indians as being the origin of Thanksgiving. Over the countless years to follow, as tradition melded with enterprise, the 4th Thursday in November has become the kickoff to a frenzied holiday season when a proverbial gun goes off to start marathon bargain hunting merriment.
Unwitting and ill-equipped… a large populous cringe at the notion of crammed malls, packed parking lots, interminable lines, and ornate office parties with a plethora of boisterous people, garnished platters and apathetic cocktails. It’s a time of air travel delirium and fanatical follies. How we reach January is often by sheer determination, a ‘ride the wave’ mentality, discounting of our sensibilities, notable obliviousness, or an impressively composed sedation.
The question is asked at dining tables everywhere, “What are you thankful for?” The answers vary, although a theme of sorts can be found among the declarations. We speak of the space in our hearts where our emotion-driven ties and specially crafted bonds dwell. Consignment of one’s fragility and precious health – for a moment – are treasured. We acknowledge our loved ones with delightful toasts and pleasing words of appreciation. We express who is dear and we expose what is valued – having escalated from all that is mundane and mediocre.
Who and what we are thankful for evolves through the ages. Monumental shifts in time leave an impression which can collide with brunt force upon our sense of goodness. What we prize may become irrelevant. Who we adore may vanish. A cherished connection may recede like an ocean’s tide. It’s difficult to forecast how the space in our heart will be filled in a year. In a decade. In a lifetime.
Sometimes what fades away is a natural process of growing up. Departures happen for reasons not of heart but of economics or professional aspiration or family obligation. Letting go is essential when someone close chooses to take a one-way flight to another destination. Its only when the absconded remains strikingly clutched to our soul that we quietly lament the loss. If one frantically tries to grasp the exhaust, true appreciation for the vaporized connection comes about only after the grief wanes.
Understandably people, mostly, fill our holiday season sentiments, still I often wonder how much we think about the pure joy and resounding impact remarkable experiences which script our story. Not just Facebook postings of our amusing, awkward and awesome shareable moments. I’m interested in those nondescript snapshots with an evanescent quality, stopping us in our tracks. When the magnificence of nature lingers in one’s inner album. A rush of exhilaration holds an enduring spark. Those fleeting encounters more memorable than we could have ever anticipated.
I’m curious to know of an experience that captured your imagination. A day like no other that inspired your being… captivated your psyche… tapped your dreams.
For me, the moment came on a crisp sunny morning in April as I trekked from the U.S. Capitol to the shoreline of the Potomac in Washington D.C. I was awash in a myriad of memories from the decades-past life I once availed in the city. While on the dirt tow-path that runs along a narrow canal in the heart of Georgetown, I was flooded by thoughts of a ‘80s summer- triad of my uncle, Ed, my mother and me – venturing about as semi-tourists. In my idyllic youthful enthusiasm, I was captivated by the majestic monuments and the splendor of cherry blossoms along the tidal basin. Mom and I trailed on that tow-path many steamy afternoons talking insentiently about every conceivable theory and thought. Nothing was left unspoken. Those walks were instrumental in reconciling my failures. At a time when much of my sense of self was bankrupt, our strolls through Georgetown restored some portion of my innermost wealth.
On that path in April, a part of me was invigorated, which had been adrift for a time. I had been feeling unsettled about my compass… unconvinced of my charted course. As secure as my aim appeared to be, it was not meant for me. Wandering through Washington left a lasting imprint which altered my bearings entirely.
In reflecting back on the year that was, what happened that had the power to move you? Tell me just one thing which, in some small measure, changed your world.