Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gratitude Feast... for the spirit

My heart is overflowing with joyful gratitude at this very moment. We are seated together at the dining table enjoying waffles and fruit salad with the wee ones... they are working on some art projects while baba (dad) works on a grant proposal and mama (moi) blogs.

Every month since July, we host a gathering for the kids' preschool aged friends and their parents. We select a virtue for the theme and just have fun with it. Last month, we had a service theme costume party (as an alternative to the other candy and super hero oriented holiday). The kids dressed up as a community helper of their choice, worked on coloring pages that showed these helpers in action, read about community service (in English and Spanish), enjoyed a variety if fresh apples for snacks... and just had a good time being kids.

This gratitude feast comes at a really good time. I have found myself becoming afraid over the last couple of days. I was watching CNN the other night listening to the panic-struck commentators speaking about the dismal state of the economy. I noticed my blood pressure rising and my heart sinking in fear. Our little Ms. Sunshine continues to wake up on the hour all night long screaming. With no answers from the physicians, we are narrowing in on the strong possibility that she might have sleep apnea. Already, we sleep hardly, and now we sleep fearfully. The thought of my precious one losing her breath in her sleep... the remote possibility of losing one of my children is one of my worst fears. Sitting with this fearful anxiety the last couple of days, I have been wondering how to muster up courage and peace.

As it turns out, today, we are hosting a gratitude feast. As I prepare for it logistically by cleaning up the house, preparing a veggie stew and rice pilaf, planning the activities and so on, I am also preparing emotionally and mentally. My heart-wish is to have a gratitude feast that is not just nourishing to our bodies but our spirits too. While the t(of)urkey dinner and football game get so much air-time, I often wonder what really matters. I see so many stressed out people this time of year who are planning a big dinner. They are worried about getting the turkey just right, and the fixings to go with it. I love the comforting ritual of it all. What we really need is a deeply nourishing feast for the spirit.

At our gathering today, we will keep it simple. We will read picture books that illustrate children enjoying the simple gifts of life and nature. We will play a card game in which we will pick cards and speak about why we should be grateful for... a meal, snow, friends, the color purple, trash, farmers, hats... you get the idea. We will do a craft called Tree of Thanks. For this, we will go outside to collect leaves. We will then trace our arms and hands onto paper, and paste leaves on them. On each leaf, we will write what we are thankful for. For dinner, we will relish the joys of sharing a meal with friends. We might even do a dance of thanks.

If you were to host a gratitude feast for the body, mind and spirit, what would you be sure to include?

As I face my fears, I remember that living in gratitude is truly life changing. It is a source of courage and peace (and a whole lot more). Just what I need right now.

1 comment:

  1. It's wonderful that you're doing this and involving all these kids because they need to see that there's so much to be hopeful and thankful for.

    I love that Tree of Thanks idea. I'd probably include some sort of activity that'll get them thinking about how they can keep track of things they're grateful for over the next week, and then they report back next time you get together. Not sure how that would work though.

    Hope the doctors can figure out the sleep issues for your little one.