Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

In the old days, before the pandemic, November was a month about Thanksgiving.

This year we are having a different kind of November which will include a different kind of Thanksgiving Day.

Many of us spent most of our time and attention on what we were going to eat and the football we were going to watch. A few of us, though, focused on gratitude.

I remember people who kept gratitude journals during November. They intentionally chose one thing each day of the whole month and tried to write about being grateful for it.

Other people tried to spend November practicing 30 Days of Gratitude. They posted on various social media each day describing their gratitude for the good things which filled their lives.

I have also written in the past about the significant role beer has played in our Thanksgiving traditions, even with the pilgrims from the Mayflower

This year, in this November during the pandemic, it is a challenge for me to practice gratitude. For many of us this has been a year about frustration and loss.

Some of us lost jobs we had dreamed about this year. We may have lost the money we had put away to save us when times got bad. Many of us have lost our access to medical care at exactly the time we fear we will need it more than every before.

We may have lost our hope for the future, our belief life will ever be satisfying again.

More than all those things put together, many of us have lost people we love. This has become a year of death and mourning for us.

It will not be possible for me to make this November, this Thanksgiving Day, like last year and the ones which came before. If you are like me, this Thanksgiving will not be a day of getting together with family and friends to share a meal.

The challenge for me this year is to find a new and different kind of Thanksgiving.

It is not enough, in these times, for November to be the threshold of the holiday shopping season. This Thanksgiving we need more than a day to eat ourselves into food coma and them rouse ourselves to get up and buy things.

This November and this Thanksgiving have the potential to be deeper and more significant for us.

Some of us will find ways to spend our days helping other people. I know people who help serve food in homeless shelters and food kitchens each Thanksgiving. Those of us who are able are making special contributions to assisting others.

For me this year has been overwhelming because of the sheer number of people who have died. News agencies keep running track of how many people have contracted the virus and how many have died, in the United States and around the world.

People tell stories about the people they love who have died alone because virus is so contagious. Some places have struggled to keep up with the growing specter of death and dying.

The number of deaths from the coronavirus might overshadow those who have died from other causes. It is a challenge to be attentive to life when there is so much dying in the world around us.

We struggle to continue in the face of such pain and loss. Being grateful seems beyond our abilities. How can we sustain Thanksgiving and practice gratitude in a November like this year’s?

As I work to be open to spiritual life within me, and in the world around me, I find it helpful to take time and pay attention. Distracted by wave after wave of challenge and difficult news, we need to find ways we can practice staying in touch.

My practice this November is to recognize my gratitude for people who are no longer here with me. I regularly set aside time to remember the people who have taught me, influenced me, and shaped my life.

It helps me to spend some time reflecting and remembering, sorting out my gratitude for what each person has given me. Slowing down, I take time to have a beer I think they would have enjoyed sharing with me.

This November is not about drinking as much beer as we can, nor about trying to recreate the way Thanksgiving used to be. Each of us demonstrates our gratitude by remembering and pausing to mark their passing.

Thank you.

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg has served as an assistant district attorney and an associate university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com, and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel on http://www.patheos.com.

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