Thanksgiving Memories and Stories

Ever since my childhood, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday, and I recall that my mother spent many weeks preparing for the festivities. What each of us remembers about our childhoods has always been a subject of fascination to me, in the sense that even those raised in the same home with the same experiences will recall different aspects of what transpired.

For example, when I was young, my cousin would have Thanksgiving with my family each year, but one vivid memory that I remember and she does not are the chocolate turkeys my mother placed in front of every dinner plate. Those treats would be our rewards for eating our meals. When my own children were born, I continued the same ritual, and now that they're grown and considering families of their own, there's a strong probability I'll continue the tradition with their children.

One of the things I love about holidays such as Thanksgiving is how they tend to bring families together, both physically and emotionally. In this highly technological age, it seems as if we're more connected digitally than emotionally. Some people try to connect with others by using emoji characters when texting on their smartphones, but this seems rather superficial, and minimizes the art of storytelling.

Some individuals are better storytellers than others. In many cultures, one individual is often intuitively designated as the storyteller in a particular group. Healers are very often storytellers, and when we get down to it, we can say that life is really all about story.

The holidays seem like an ideal time for family and friends to share stories. They have many purposes, but I believe that hearing other people's stories is what unites us as humans, and more important, it brings families together. During good and bad times, stories are a form of healing, and hearing and reading stories brings a dimension to our lives that help us and guide us. The best stories--whether in spoken or written form--have characters, conflicts, and resolutions. The same characters, like those in our lives, experience a variety of emotions, including joy and pain, comedy and drama. And often, a little bit of mystery and adventure is also thrown in.

Sometimes holidays and difficult times are steppingstones or catalysts for change and can offer opportunities for growth. When telling stories, we're able to share from our first-person perspective, but we can also do so from a third-person perspective. This is a way of viewing a situation from the other side.

This Thanksgiving, perhaps we can all make an effort to share stories and engage in mindful listening. Doing so serves as a reminder of our interconnectedness with others. Stories teach us lessons that help facilitate change, growth, and transformation, which can be very powerful.

Here's a fun holiday exercise: share a story in the first person and then have someone else repeat it back in the third person. This is an interesting way to spin a story and make sense of our lives.