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What is at the Center?

Contributed by Jody McVittie

“What is at the center?” has been a question that has popped up a lot in my life recently. For me it is another way of asking, “For the sake of what am I doing this?” As I think forward to Thanksgiving and the many December holidays I’m asking myself what I really want. For me there are many layers of answers. I enjoy the company of my family and friends. I enjoy the rituals and traditions that in someway have made me who I am, that have given a structure to times that can be stressful, and when shared, connect our family with shared practices and a shared language.

It gets more interesting when I look at what I actually do, in preparation for the family events and traditions that things get a bit more challenging and interesting. When I step back a bit I notice that part of me wants things to be “perfect.” I must have some imaginary picture that tells me that “if only” all of the external things could be perfect – then our family would be happier, more compassionate with each other, more able to connect … and then of course we would love each other more.

Underneath that though there is another voice that reminds me that in my striving to make things “better” or “the best” I’m actually removing myself from the very connection and love that I seek. And even though I have this picture of what it is “supposed” to look like, I also know that it has been our family’s moments of raw imperfection that have brought us closer together, that have created wonderful family stories and that remind of us our love for each other. You probably have them too: times when a child’s shoes got left behind on a trip to visit grandpa, a camping trip that got flooded out, holding back tears and sitting in silence around the bed of a dying relative. They are part of what makes us grateful to be connected as family.

My invitation to you for this Thanksgiving and holidays is to spend a moment thinking about what you want to be at the center. Is it the turkey? Is it “making” people happy by giving expensive gifts? Is it special moments of laughter and play? Is it the love and gratitude that you have for your “family” whether they be blood relatives or a collection of friends? Is it about sharing with others? Does what you are doing in these holi-days line up with what you really want to be at the center? If not, you might try:

Re-centering. Take some time to think about what really matters to you for the holidays. Put your own picture of perfection aside for a moment and go a bit deeper. If you could wave a magic wand over the seen, what would your heart want?

Take small steps. Start by being just a bit more intentional about how you go about your preparations.

Aim for progress not perfection.

Lighten up. Love shows up in surprising moments when we can laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.

Gratitude and celebration are practices that enrich all of us.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!