Thanksgiving Thoughts, Gratitude and Reality

Happy Thanksgiving in a circle over colorful paper bead necklacesAn Enduring Holiday in a Different World

Thanksgiving is a federal holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It started as a harvest festival. The “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621.

The dinner traditionally consists of foods that are still a tradition for many today; turkey, potatoes, stuffing, squash, corn, green beans, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is regarded as being the beginning of the fall–winter holiday season, along with Christmas and the New Year, in American culture.

This Thanksgiving is turning out to be quite different with COVID causing more shut downs, curfews and limitations on gatherings. As I’m writing this the state of California where I live has imposed a curfew from 10am to 5pm to help slow the spread of the virus. There are restrictions on celebrating Thanksgiving such as not celebrating with people outside your household, if you do celebrate, have your meal outdoors and keep everyone 6 feet apart etc.

These limitations are putting a strain on many people. The Center for Disease control in the US reports that 40% of US adults are struggling with mental health or substance use issues.

The Journey From Loneliness to Gratitude

I know for me I’ve struggled with loneliness because I live alone. From March to June I cried a lot and felt sad and isolated. I went outside for a walk in my neighborhood almost daily to help keep endorphins going but the fact that I couldn’t go to the beach and walk made me sad. I was grateful I could at least go out and walk.

In June I went up to Trinity County, California to visit my son. They had had only 3 cases of COVID in the entire county at that time and where I was staying there were no people around.

It felt so good to get away. That was right after the riots and protests from George Floyd. Living close to Los Angeles and having space in a business in Long Beach where looting, riots and protests were close by added stress to the situation. There was an attempted looting at the CVS directly across the street and also at the bank around the corner.

Irvine Fire Map

Recently we had fires threatening the area where I live. In October a fire broke out not far from my house. The Santa Ana winds were extremely high that day and the fire was threatening many neighborhoods. The evacuation orders were getting close to my house so I packed everything essential (papers, laptops, cats family photos and toiletries, clothes etc). I was ready to go because the mandatory evacuation was moving closer and closer to my house.  Then the wind shifted and it started moving another direction. I had several friends who had to evacuate and was checking in with them as things were unfolding. 

I had just gotten in a big order of Soapstone and my house basically is a storage facility for all the Baskets and Beads products. The thought of losing all that shook me up. I didn’t care about my personal belongings as much as the products the ladies in Kenya made. It was upsetting to say the least. I was so grateful that the fire was put out and there was no loss of life or property. Others in California in the past years have not been so lucky. Many have lost everything they owned to fires and some lost their lives.

How to Become Thankful Right Now. Right Here. 

With so much going on and so many stressors, how can anyone think about being thankful? While it can be a challenge, the thing that has helped me is thinking about the simple things I am grateful for daily and living in gratitude even among the stresses we are facing in the world right now. If you want to hear more on the topic of gratitude, check out the Tea Time Tuesday interview series with myself and my friend and award winning entrepreneur Larry Broughton. You will find some tools you can use to stay in gratitude even amongst the struggles. 

Gratitude is a way to shift focus off of the overwhelming feelings that you may be experiencing. Another thing I do is play uplifting music to lighten the mood in the house.  For me it has worked to counteract other feelings of loneliness or sadness that sometimes come. Here’s one of my favorites that I listen to often about staying strong

Right now because of COVID,  many are out of work and many can’t provide for their families or are ill or at the least can’t see their loved ones this holiday season. They may not feel very thankful. I was supposed to be in Kenya right now visiting with the ladies and our team in Kenya. I cancelled the trip because of increases in COVID and I miss being able to see them and praying I can see them soon.

For many the upcoming holiday season is something to endure. They face the holidays with trepidation because of the feelings of sadness, loneliness or despair. Many have lost loved ones to COVID or other illnesses. People are struggling to feed their families. Businesses are on the brink of failing or have failed due to the shutdown.  So being thankful and celebrating maybe a struggle for some.  That person that someone filmed having a meltdown in public is probably going through something difficult. Perhaps those people filming that to get more views  could have compassion instead of filming it to get more views at someone else's expense. 

Thankfully this Thanksgiving my son is here visiting and my daughter is able to come too, so I will not be alone this year. I’ve accepted the reality of being alone as the way life is for me. While it makes me sad at times, I make sure I surround myself with friends who hold my values and believe in me and what I’m doing in Kenya. I have many of those friends both male and female and grateful for them. With COVID it’s been a challenge to get together with people but I cherish time sitting with friends at the local coffee shop sipping a warm drink and sharing physical distanced laugh or an elbow bump "hug".

As a kid after my mother died of alcoholism (when I was 12) my dad shipped me off to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving and Christmas while he stayed home and drank himself into a stupor. After my mother died there was never another celebration of the holidays in my house as a kid. No Christmas tree, no presents under the tree, no Thanksgiving dinner, nothing.

What I’ve learned from having such a bad childhood and other struggles I’ve had in life is that through all of that I can still be grateful. My faith in God and his word are something I turn to often. If you are struggling this holiday season, here is something that has always helped me.

At a minimum, make a gratitude list when you wake up and when you go to sleep. What you focus on expands.  Focusing on gratitude will help put the rest at bay.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Eldonna & The Entire Team



Happy Thankful Thanksgiving everyone. Everyday can be Thanksgiving day when celebrating what you are thankful for.



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