Ideas for Creating A Grateful Holiday Celebration
Everything in the universe
is a pitcher brimming
with wisdom and beauty.
Moonlight floods the whole sky
from horizon to horizon;
How much it can fill your room
depends on its windows.
There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.
Don’t think all ecstasies are the same
Look past your thoughts,
so you may drink
the pure nectar of This Moment.
If I can only recount
the story of my life
right out of my body
flames will grow.
The soul is here
for its own joy.
Blessings to you!
I like to think that I get to choose how the holy days of holidays feels to me. That it is up to me to bring in the sacred. Yes it is a choice, even for those of us who include ritual in our daily lives. I feel that each of us gets to choose how our holidays feel to us. Most of the time we cannot change the folks who come or how they are going to be, but we can change how we be. And…we can choose to bring the sacred in our lives these holy days even if not everybody wants to play. And it is a choice, to not just let it go by in busy-ness and obligation, but to really make it our own.
What does bringing the sacred in look like for you?
It might be different than what it looks like to me, but I thought I would share as I do every year, my ten ideas for a truly grateful holiday. Our home is a sacred place that we are blessed to share with others. Setting the energy of the home, and the day, and your mood will do wonders for the festive environment, and the experience folks have when they share this day with you. I am speaking from experience, and my family knows when they are coming to my house for a holiday/holy day, they are going to experience something unusual, and now they are used to it, and I think secretly welcome it (shhhh). The biggest gift I think we can give on our Holidays is gratitude, and bringing the spirit of gratitude to the day. This is no revelation to any of you, but it is still a choice that needs to be chosen before the turkey and jello salad gets to the table. By then the erngy is already set and it is hard to change it. YOU choose it the day before and begin to build the energy from there.
There are many ways to make these days your own, to reflect who you are and to include what is important to YOU. Even if your family is stressful for you – as it is for many – you can prepare yourself for that – by being aware that THEY are not going to be different, and it is not going to be different this year, ONLY YOU can change how you are going to interact with it. Did someone say “non-reactive” is the key. Yes. I am saying that.
In my family we have everyone from rednecks to witches to Christians to Yogis so while I cannot please everyone, most agree that gratitude can cuase a more intimate experience!! It will just flow of you. SURE they might not notice the streams of grace flowing from you or the Jesus rays coming from your halo – but if YOU do then that will be better, right? Right. I am sticking to that.
Here are some simple ideas to bring in the sacred, which may seem challenging at first because we think folks won’t want to do them. And they will be like, there she/he goes again, getting all new age on us. Well not everyone will want to, but some will, and that will be enough. No pouting allowed okay? And this is a part of making this day, and all your holy days, your own. YOU inhabit the HOLY part and let the rest unfold around you.
Hopefully one of these ideas will inspire you – or inspire you to make up your own ritual for your Holiday feast. I am not suggesting doing all of them, maybe just one…this is written from the perspective of the host/hostess but you can translate it into being a guest as well.
This has been a truly amazing, and unexpected year for me. As I make my gratitude list it feels like it could go on for pages. Will you make one too? It helps kind of recap things….
Here are a few of the bigger ones that come up for me…. I feel in love with Jonathan Lewis and got engaged !!!, went to the United Nations to speak, shared the work of 40 women graduates of the Color of Woman at the United Nations, painted in Paris with a group of women, had an early honey-moon in Tuscany, Italy, launched a livestreaming classroom with my sweetie at CCU, got a Proclamation from the City of Healdsburg for my work in the community and the world, completed year 3 of the Color of Woman Training, we have served over 300 women a month in revolutionary education, worked along side 2 women I am most grateful for, Jena Joy and Stella Mac of Cosmic Cowgirls. I also got to paint along side my mentor, Sue Hoya and continue to share her teachings with others. I got to share the work of my mom, Caron McCloud and sister Havi Mandell in Red Madonna. And I got to teach with one of my best friends, Christine Arylo at one of the most powerful workshops I have ever co-led. This cycle is full to brimming with inspiration. This week did Pre-Registration for Color of Woman 2014 in the most risky way possible, I streamed it! It was one of the wildest experiences – tears, giggles, drumming, prayers, sharing my work. I cannot believe the GIFT of working alongside those I love. WOW. Yes I am grateful.
And I am grateful for YOU. Blessings to each of you! I am truly grateful that you are a part of my Red Thread and Cosmic Cowgirls community – and that you journey with me in this cosmic way – where our threads are connected from across the miles. I am grateful for YOU – in more ways than you can possibley now. You might wonder, how could she be grateful for me, she doens’t know me (unless I do know you) and I will tell you still – from my heart to yours, I am grateful for you.
May your experience of this time be blessed. If you take time for you – to pray, to meditate, to reflect on your gratitude, it will just go so much mo’ better. Jonathan and I are adventuring to visit all kinds of family – including going to Sue’s for a day, my Aunts and then for him to meet my father and uncle at my sisters.
Signed in love
This morning I woke with one of my own quotes in my head, May Love be at the Center of All Choices, and I thought, that is the surest way to make sure things turn out the best and highest good for all. I want to be that love.
I do this list every year and try to make it a little better each time…
Ten Ideas for
Creating A Grateful Holiday Celebration
1. The Prayer Bowl
After folks have arrived and have drinks and are settled in, enroll one of the younger guests to pass around pens and paper and a prayer bowl and ask folks to write down what that they are grateful for. Later in the evening – invite folks to burn/offer/read the prayers together, or do it in the fireplace, and either read one anothers or just read them one by one. Even if they are anonymous.
By having one of the younger generation do it, they feel really important and good to participate and make adults do this, and also adults are less likely to say no to a younger person asking such a sweet thing of them.
2. Gratitude Circle
Call a circle right before dinner to give thanks around the table. State your Intention since you have all of their attention. Then once they are seated, you remain standing and take gentle control, and invite each person to share what they are grateful for as you all eat dinner. You start, and have one person next to you who is ready to share and is not surprised about this. (ignore any grumbling and forge ahead, it is so much more interesting than sports, or the weather or little Sally’s gymnastic class)
You may experience resistance at first, but they will get over it, and the table can be filled with love. Often people don’t want to do it, but they feel pressured into it and then they surprise themselves. THIS is magic.
3. All My Relations Altar:
Set up an altar in a central place and put up photos of living family and well as family gone before. If you don’t have a photo you can write a list. And most especially write a list of who is coming, with the words, I Am Thankful For: Put out pens and paper and invite folks to participate. Whether they do or don’t they will see it and the spirit of blessing is there in physical form.
If it is not too late for you – you can also send a quick e-mail or phone call or text inviting folks to bring photos or momentos for the family altar, along with a bottle of wine or sparkle. Call it a family table if the word altar is too challenging.
4. Four Directions Sacred Environment
Create your environment with a sense of sacred space. Put candles everywhere, even if it is the daytime and most especially anchor them in the directions. Light the candles and nearby them, float little tiny flowers or leaves from the yard or from a store bouquet on bowls of water or in little vases. Children love to do this with you. Then put a feather, or something representing air, if you want to. Then you have all the elements on your altar. No one else needs to know that this is – but they will see it and it will bless them and ground the space. In your prayer you can mention the elements or four directions and mention the little altars around. Do this if you can right before guests arrive and say a blessing around your home and a prayer to make yourself a wonderful host.
This can also in it’s own way, bring awareness to this holiday which for many has a mixed meaning-and while this is not the topic of my post – it bears researching and in my family we often talk about the “real” meaning for us and what really may have happened at Thanksgiving.
5. I Am Grateful Creative Space
Light candles and bring the spirit of beauty everywhere. Set up a table for creative expression. Get out pens, paper, glitter glue, crayons, scissors, hole punch, yarn and construction paper. If you have one of my coloring books you can make copies of the pages and put them out to color – this is TRULY effective and even the adults get into it. Make time to start your own creative acts to demonstrate the fun, before guests arrive – if possible find a wall to hang up the art made that day and make a sign: Gratitude GALLERY and the date, or your family name or something to make it special. Folks will naturally go on over, kids will be happy and it will create a playful thankful experience in your home.
If you don’t have a basket or drawer yet for theses supplies – now is the time. If you are one of our students at CCU then you FOR SURE have this area ready to go in your home right? Do not go a week longer without having simple art supplies at your fingertips!
6. Chocolate’ or Like Water For Chocolate – Contemplative Cooking
Sit down prior to cooking and write out your menu, then choose a theme or love topic for each menu item. Then when you are cooking it, say that prayer or a sentence regarding that essence which you are imparting to the food. Keep a notebook while you are cooking so you can come up with alternate new name and descriptions for the food. Then when you present the food you can tell the story of cooking it. Don’t forget to add chocolate to the gravy – just a little. And roses to some dishes as well.
If you have not watched either of the two movies listed above – for a while – do that soon, and they are also good late night movies after dinner and guests are settling down or leaving.
7. Giving Thanks to Source, Our Creator and to your family.
If you have a chance, prior to guests arriving or even the day before, get out your journal or computer and write a prayer of gratitude. Make a list of 10-30 things you are thankful for to get in the mood for yourself. Is there a special prayer, poem or scripture that you would like to read out loud to share? Print it out and get ready for that.
This of course sets the mood for how you will be and invites the DIVINE into the day.
8. Gratitude Walk
Taking a walk as a family is a wonderful experience. The leaves crunching beneath your feet and the smell of fire in the hearth or pumpkin pie in the oven wafting through the air. This is great for right after dinner while it is still light out so you might mention for your guests to bring shoes for a short walk.
Walk through the streets of your town or neighborhood….notice all the beauty and greet everyone with cheer! In this case folks will fall into easy conversation with each other and it will still be a group experience while giving individual the chance to check in even sometimes more privately than in the house.
9. Giving Thanks to your Guests
During dinner, and afterward, or during the walk, make a point to not be too busy “doing” to not take time to tell each guest how important they are to you – and why, and in what way. It only has to take a few minutes per person and it is usually such a blessing for that person – and for you. Even and especially if they have challenged you in the past – this is the time to share love and appreciation, and if you are brave, acknowledge your part in any ways that you have not been present.
I recently lost a dear friend to cancer, she was my age. I then texted all of my friends how grateful I was for them in my life. I told one friend that I was sooo grateful for her and that I knew I wasn’t the kind of friend I used to be since really working these projects, and I just wanted to acknowledge that it was different than it was and that I KNEW that. This is the kind of truthful admission that can create intimacy in a moment.
10. Listen to Your Own Heart
Remember to be present – to continue to bring your awareness to you own heart and life while everyone is doing whatever it is they are doing. AND to step out of the over-culture and hype long enough to find your own pace within. Choose today and begin to get yourself ready by imagining yourself being brave and telling your family how much it would mean to you for you all to do: fill in the blank with ritual of your choice.This day is for everyone, but it is ALSO for you. Remember you this Holy Day of thanks.
In all of these it is easy to be too busy or lose your nerve. I happen to LIKE the hubub of holidays, love the decoration and cheer, love the shop windows and specials. But then I own a shop, and the visitors are always so happy to come in during holiday cycles. Yes I know, Black Friday and all that. yes yes. And I love it when a town chooses to add lights and wreathes and happy music to their plaza like here in Healdsburg.
Perhaps most important of all for a truly blessed holiday is CHOOSING WHO YOU ARE GOING TO BE as a HOST – HOW and WHO you want to show up as. Consider your guests arriving, how will you greet them? Consider the folks you usually have tension with, how will you, from the start create that as something different this year? How can you radiate peace, and not do too much? How will you ask for help and not show that you are stressed? How do you want to be perceived? Often we feel framed in advance by friends and family – as if they already have us figured out. Who cares? You can continue to transform and be who you want to be. A great trick is to choose powerfully, non-reactivity all day long.
Blessings to you!
May your days be gratefully filled with the presence of love.