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.