FREEDOM FROM WANT

I absolutely, unequivocally love Thanksgiving . . . and the whole kick-off to the holiday season. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, our family tradition of hot and gooey monkey bread first thing in the morning. I must admit I go a little crazy this time of year. The colors of fall, the smells, the long afternoon shadows, and all things pumpkin. I love burning spicy candles in my home and making hearty soups. Everything leading up to that decadent sit-down meal on Thanksgiving Day is heaven on earth to me.

Like many, I love this holiday because there is no pomp (or at least there doesn’t have to be). There are no gifts. There are many “Friendsgivings” now where the company you keep is your choice (so good). It is simply about gathering, eating, and gratitude. My mother-in-law is visiting this year from Australia, and I’m so excited to share a down-home Thanksgiving with her. We are heading back to Kansas, where I grew up, and although it’s not exactly a Norman Rockwell painting, Freedom from Want is certainly in place; we all put our differences aside and we love each other . . . all day long.

Now, this time of year is my season to indulge. Indulgence can get a bad rap, but I see indulgence as a time to give myself more of all the right things: more love, more compassion, more kindness, more respect. Indulgence looks like snuggling up with my daughters and my husband by the fire, playing more backgammon and cards, sneaking caramel and cheese popcorn out of the huge tin while baking green bean casseroles and listening to Louis, Ella, Eartha . . . yes, I start the Christmas oldies in November. This music makes me happy, and calms my soul, and I make no excuses. Indulgence is bundling up and braving the Kansas City wind and chill for a family adventure to Winstead’s, and licking my fingers after one of their famous burgers; Indulgence is changing into pjs at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and enjoying the lingering warmth and bellyache from the delicious meal. Holiday indulgence is not paired with remorse, regret, or guilt. Instead, I replace these useless emotions with gratitude. This time with my beautiful family is precious, a gift to be cherished. And so, with this framework firmly in place, I select holiday outfits that allow me to be in the moment, rather than in my head. 

I used to search (unsuccessfully) each year for the perfect “Thanksgiving” ensemble. Through this process, I have deduced that there really is no “Thanksgiving” look. I don’t need to dress like a pumpkin in a bright orange sweater or wear jodhpurs with riding boots and a fur hat; I quite simply need to be the best and most comfortable version of myself that I can be. If you’re feeling your best, you will find it a lot easier to find the best in those around you. And this comes in super handy during the holidays, when—as we all know—sometimes the obligatory group we’re forced to break bread with would not be our first pick. Dig deep, breathe deep, and be kind. This starts with you feeling the best about YOU that you possibly can. If you love to wear black, wear black; if you love a skirt, wear that. If you love jeans and a sweater or silk blouse (this is me) then by all means wear that. And if you’re heading somewhere where you can’t dress comfortably, you may want to rethink where you’re going. Saying that, let’s do show some respect and stay out of the sweats and UGG slippers (at least until after dinner).

I encourage you this year to find the good, even (especially!) in those whom you struggle with more than others. Think of those you find most challenging to be around and plan a conversation about something that interests them (and that doesn’t piss you off. Read: avoid politics). It does your soul a world of good to look through a lens of understanding and compassion, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Enjoy every second of the chaos, the imperfections, the company you are keeping. Be kind, show forgiveness, and make sure to indulge without guilt . . . many don’t get that privilege.

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Danielle BellertComment