NaBloPoMo 2016, Letters to Patients, Day 24
To Patients Who Feel Lukewarm About Thanksgiving:
I’m with ya.
Not that I have anything against Thanksgiving… I just have difficulty pouring forth a great gush of gratitude every fourth Thursday of November for a national holiday. I thought this week it was just because of the tensions of the year, but looking back, I’ve never really loved this day. I feel sheepish to write it, like people will think less of me. Then again, something tells me I might not be the only one?
Yesterday I shared the most eloquent treatise on gratitude I have ever read, and I believe every word. I try to live the premise every day—to pay attention and feel gratitude at the deepest cosmic level, connected to everything in the universe. I marvel every day at all that I have, all that I am privileged to witness and do—to live this life, so full of learning and connection. Today I’m supposed to summon and articulate all that moves me to thankfulness… Why do I resist?
I imagine many would read this and think, “Wow, she is so ungrateful,” or maybe un-American? I think most people who know me would disagree. And those who know and love me best would hold the space with me to explore the curiosity of it all, without judging me for it or trying to ‘fix’ it. And I’m ever so grateful for them, because I’m not sure it’s something that needs to be ‘fixed.’
I think it’s okay to feel not particularly grateful today, no more than any other day. I also think it’s okay to feel especially grateful on this day, significantly more than any other day. What’s not okay—what I see causing so many people to suffer—is when we shame others for thinking and feeling differently from us. We physicians do this more than we realize, I think. When patients don’t seem to take blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or flu as seriously as we do, we can get very judgmental. When they have different ideas about what will make them better (natural supplements, unusual diets, acupuncture, shamanic journeying, homeopathy), we can become positively hostile. This is rarely helpful.
So if you, like me, are not particularly into Thanksgiving, and/or if you don’t subscribe to all conventional wisdom around certain things medical, I will try to withhold judgment. I am indeed grateful for the chance to gather and enjoy one another’s company this week. I don’t advertise my apathy for the holiday, as that would diminish others’ joy—and that would be antithetical to my core values. I also appreciate the freedom to celebrate modestly rather than exuberantly. I respect your right to choose therapies according to your values and beliefs, as long as your choices do not harm others.
I’ll continue to explore my relative indifference toward Thanksgiving. Thank you for not trying to make me feel bad for it.
I wrote a comment about how I feel about Thanksgiving, but I’m in a pretty dark place these days and I don’t think it was helpful. Needless to say, you are not alone in your ambivalence.
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Thank you, Michelle. And I’m sorry for the darkness. It’s certainly a challenge to hold onto light these days, nooo doubt. May we all still find a little light each day, and share it with one another. One photon, one lumen at a time. We will see our way forward. xoxo
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I’m not a holiday person at all—and I particularly dislike Christmas, to the point of ignoring it completely. Of the remaining holidays, Thanksgiving is probably toward the top. For us, it’s a no-pressure holiday: food, friends … we don’t have family (in the traditional sense), so there’s no drama. I suppose we don’t celebrate it in the way we’re “supposed” to—taking time to express gratitude. Like you, I see gratitude as something we live every day and don’t really need a special day to enforce it. The Holiday’s meaning for me is good food, friends, and, if I’m lucky, a couple of hours of uninterrupted time to read a good book. It may be a shallow take on the “true” meaning of Thanksgiving, but I’m ok with that! Meaning is something we make, not something imposed on us.
Added bonus: the leftovers!—there’s nothing better than a turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Ok, I’m shallow!
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Thanks for the support, Donna. You get my meaning in this post, exactly–there is so much pressure to celebrate all these holidays a certain way. Pam Kirst over at Catching My Drift wrote a great post yesterday about traditions, and how a little mindfulness around them can keep us from perpetuating things with little or no meaning… Thanks again, Donna, it’s so nice to feel understood. 🙂
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