Another wonderful holiday is right around the corner. I, for one, am happily looking forward to the MASHED POTATOES. I love them. I love them made with lots of salt and butter…sometimes with sour cream mixed in or a little garlic. Yum.
A holiday meal like Thanksgiving is no time to restrict calories. Who would be so unkind to themselves? It’s impossible to add a significant amount of weight from a single meal. In our efforts to eat nutritious foods and to control the amount of calories we take in there are times when it’s appropriate to just let go, to enjoy friends, family and yes the prodigious amounts of food we’re so fortunate to have.
Speaking of being fortunate, Thanksgiving is a time when I stop to count my many, many blessings. I try to keep gratitude in the forefront of my mind at all times, all year long but Thanksgiving is a little reminder to slow down and take stock. Even though life can offer up unexpected challenges, roadblocks and sometimes seemingly insurmountable difficulties, every single one of them is best faced with an appreciation for that which we HAVE instead of what we’re lacking. It’s a hard orientation to maintain sometimes. Problems feel overwhelming. Despair seeps in under the door, takes up residence on the couch, raids the refrigerator and makes a tall, deep mess right in the middle of the room.
The best cure for it is to first count your own blessings…and yes, scant though they may seem, they are there. The next step is to extend yourself to help someone else. You may question how you’re supposed to do that when ugly Despair is running around, unfettered through your house but I posit that it’s the best tactic for mounting a defense that can send Despair packing
Helping someone else can take myriad forms. We tend to think of big, grand acts with sweeping, obvious results like bringing food to a starving village or carrying children out of a burning building. Those are indeed great acts but such scale is not required of us. Indeed, when you can hardly get out of bed in the morning those opportunities will probably not present themselves to you. In the battle against despair teeny, tiny acts are all that is required to begin the eviction process. If you have the skill, you can fix something for someone. You can make a phone call to see how someone is doing. If that’s still too big, you can offer up a genuine compliment to someone in your circle. If you can’t bring yourself to talk, you can give someone a friendly gesture, a thumbs up or a wave. Even a simple smile can be a tremendous gift.
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” (Mother Teresa)
If smiling is too much (and sometimes it is) you can always pray for someone privately. When fighting despair, no act or gesture is too small. Give what you can because every, single, intentional act of kindness is of value.
It’s important to remember that you are only required to originate the act. You will most likely never know the influence that act had. It’s not necessary for you to know or judge the outcome. Those things are the pervue of God and perhaps they will be revealed to you one day, but not now. Just know the act itself is enough.
When Despair arrives and starts making a royal mess inside the house, it’s time to feed our spirit. We do this by doing the work of the spirit. We do it by raising up, supporting and encouraging our fellow man even from the depths of our own hurt. Little is required. The smallest bit of yourself, the tiniest offerings are enough. Even if you think your reserves are long gone you still have something to give and it’s by that giving that you are filled. Your efforts don’t deplete you. You don’t end up with less. On the contrary, it’s by your actions that you are refreshed, that you are renewed that, that you are relieved. String your efforts together day by day and soon Despair is left without a place to linger. His place in your house is gone.
Wishing you a home full of laughter and good cheer on Thanksgiving day and every day thereafter.