Mary Ann Faremouth

By Mary Ann Faremouth

Being Creatively Grateful

Being Creatively Grateful 150 150 Mary Ann Faremouth

If I do a “Self-Inventory,” the First Step of the Faremouth Method, and think of a year when I really could enjoy the comfort of a big holiday dinner with my family in a different state, this is it.  However, in 2020, getting on an airplane to go home to visit family or having a big feast with many folks around the dining room table isn’t advisable. It’s potentially even a high-risk activity. There will be other years coming to get together with family the way we used to. This year it’s more important to stay home in small gatherings with only those we live with, as the medical experts have advised. This is a perfect year to remember those special occasions of a time gone by with our loved ones who may not be with us any longer.

 

Holidays, for me, always bring back fond memories of my loving family and some of the interesting traditions and experiences that we shared.  I remember traveling to Florida, my parents’ retirement home, one Thanksgiving to visit my Mom and Dad with my husband, and two small sons.  We got there a few days early to shop for all the fixings for the big meal, and my then six-year-old son was always anxious to fish in the small pond near the condominium with Grandpa.

 

My Mother would start preparing all her special Italian dishes days before the actual holiday; her delicious lasagna, special veggie dip, amazing meatballs and sauce, pies, cannoli, etc.,  and we also would get caught up on so many things we all had been doing.  My mother seemed to always like to cook for a small army, and it was great to have the leftovers for a few days afterward.  Her cooking was always amazing, and to this day, I’ve still never mastered many of her special dishes that I watched her make so many times.

 

This one Thanksgiving I will never, ever, forget.  I remember hearing my mother get up extra early on Thanksgiving Day to get the turkey ready to put into the oven.  My kids, husband, and I got in the car with my Dad and drove to the ocean so the kids could pick up shells and get into the water.  It was a beautiful day, and it was great to walk along the beach and get away from the hustle-bustle of our lives to just relax.

 

After a few hours, we decided to head back to the condo to enjoy the big Thanksgiving meal my Mom had worked so hard to prepare.  My husband walked up the steps to the fourth floor of their condo and told me he was anxious to smell the fragrant turkey that he knew would be so delicious.  As we walked into the house, he looked at me with a funny smirk on his face because neither one of us smelled anything.  He walked into the kitchen and looked at the oven and came over to me and said, “Mary Ann, your Mom forgot to turn the oven on!”

 

I recall my Dad saying something like, “Oh, that’s ok.  We have so much food here.  We can extend the Thanksgiving celebration and have the turkey tomorrow.” That reminds me of a famous quote by Ernest Hemingway from his book, “The Old Man & the Sea,” that says:

 

“Now is not the time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”

 

That quote really does remind me of the essence of Thanksgiving 2020.  We might not have the same opportunities to enjoy the normal traditions of the holiday, etc., but I think we can

be grateful for what we do have and make new traditions to enjoy what there is.

 

With so many people out of work, furloughed, or experiencing pay cuts, let’s take a look at some ways we can all be more creatively grateful this holiday season, and begin some new traditions we might consider putting into place that might allow us all to experience more joy during this beautiful time of the year.

 

Catherine Sanderson, professor of psychology at Amherst College, makes a good point when she says, “The key this year may be accepting that things need to evolve and avoid comparisons with celebrations from years past. If you try to replicate past holidays exactly, it’s like this year will feel inferior.”

 

  1.  Start New Traditions – Traditions can be great but new ones can offer creative experiences and bring people even more together. History offers plenty of examples of this. Jodi Eichler-Levine says, “During the era of mass migration from Europe to the United States, people who’d immigrated suddenly had no way to celebrate major holidays with those they’d left behind.” One particular cultural group began creating elaborate postcards to celebrate the holiday.  “They were this gorgeous new art form,” she says.  “People could share their sentiments even though they could not physically be there with their loved ones.”  How neat to let your creative artistic juices run wild this holiday!  Maybe those art supplies you have tucked away in that bottom drawer of your chest need to come out and create something to give to those special people you care about. It’s a win-win for all; you can create something and feel good about giving someone a gift they might really like!
  2. Embrace Change – It’s been said “Rituals make the ordinary extraordinary.” A pumpkin pie on a random day in November is just a pumpkin pie, but a pumpkin pie on the fourth Thursday of November is not just pumpkin pie.  It’s a part of Thanksgiving tradition.  Our intentions, coupled with the season, elevate it.  With the digital world and Zoom so upon us, why not get with family in different states and all share dessert together online?  It might not be quite the same as being with them for the entire dinner, but it lets family be together and might allow people who would not be able to make an in-person visit, even without the pandemic, feel a part of the holiday and have the ability to visit and enjoy the warmth of family and good friends.
  3.  Donate to Those in Need – This Thanksgiving might be especially poignant due to the pandemic as many people have lost loved ones or are experiencing a pinch in their pocketbook.  Consider volunteering your time or donating some of those clothes stuck back in the closet, or what you can afford dollar wise that you would have spent on all the food, etc., for the holiday to an organization or charity that’s meaningful to you in lieu of having a big feast.

 

I do believe traditions and holidays are something that we should hold dear and close to our heart.  Mixing it up a bit this year and maybe in years to come, might be a nice new experience for many to enjoy.  Covid-19 doesn’t have to cast a negative light on this time of the year.  Why not decide to get creative and focus on what we can do with what there is.  Doing our own self-inventory of how we can be creatively grateful this year is also a good mindfulness practice that has only a focus on the heart of the why we get together for holidays.

 

The turkey that never got cooked that Thanksgiving Day in Florida with my parents really was not even missed.  It became a standing joke for years to come that to this day we laugh about and brings smiles to our faces!  While we enjoy the food at the holidays, it is really the connection of our hearts that creates the lasting impact and memories.  I know my sweet Mother is happy she was able to give me good content for this article during this time of the year!