How can intentionality enhance your compromised quarantine Thanksgiving?
We are about to enter the "big ritual" season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Typically, big rituals (like religious holidays) provide continuity with past generations and unite families and communities.
This year, it is going to be different. Very different. We won't have the same people at our tables, we won't be traveling to relatives' homes, we may miss the predictability of the Macy's Day Parade and the dog show, and many of us will experience loneliness like never before.
There is a lot to miss this year. Nothing wrong with saying that out loud.
Instead of sinking into despair, however, we have the choice to reframe with a question... "With more mental and social space and less obligation to "what was", what else is possible?"
When I am not setting the table for 15 guests, what else is possible?
When I am not able to hug my child or my parent, what else is possible?
When I am going to have much more time on my hands than I anticipated, what else is possible?
Intentionality provides structure, purpose, meaning and a (deeply needed) sense of control during times of enormous flux. Intentions require us to stay focused on our goal and ignore anything that could derail us. Intentions also build forward leaning energy. It can cultivate hope and reduce anxiety.
Consider these tips for cultivating intention during the next six weeks...
Appreciate your senses Make an intention to notice and feel gratitude for all of your senses, at least three times, every day. Take the time to open your spice cabinet, with or without your child, and smell each fragrance... the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the ground cumin. Look up and really pay attention to what you see in the morning sky. What wouldn't you have seen if you weren't watching intentionally? Notice and appreciate the soft texture of your warm sheets or the wooly texture of your sweater. And give thanks for the ability to taste the holiday pie.
Turn your focus to what you can do for others Make a list of ten things you intend to do for others during this season and then schedule them on your calendar. Deliver homemade scones, in a pretty package, to a neighbor who lives alone. Thank your favorite teacher for the super heavy lift these past few months. Write a check to support an important cause. Send favorite books to a child you know. Provide a lifeline for an elder or a vulnerable friend by reaching out on a regular basis. Create networking assistance for a young person or someone who has lost their job. As you do this, you model for your children, who can also create their own list of ten things they can do for someone else.
Learn, learn, learn. Make the effort to pull back the comfort of the distorted history you were taught as child and learn about the real Thanksgiving story. Make the time to start or continue a deeper dive into anti-racism. Work to understand the political division in the U.S. and how you can be an active part of bridging the deep divides. Your choice of topics, but get to it. Now is the time.
Intentionality is an important tool during times of great flux, and also when we are anticipating a huge career change, our second round of chemo, waiting for a diagnosis, managing a household of screaming children. Or a compromised quarantine Thanksgiving.
But don't take my word for it. Try these suggestions and let me know what you notice.
It is always good to remember that with choice, I can add intention to my routines and feel more present. Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.