We are heading into the feasting time of year. I love the decorations, the music, and the good food. Truthfully, very few holiday gatherings are not also complicated. It’s easy to get tangled in family dynamics, food issues, or just not feeling cheery because of the time of year or the state of the world.
What’s all this feasting about anyway? At their finest, I believe our holiday meals are about nourishing our best selves and strengthening the ties of family and community.
I offer this vision of feasting to be a compass through all the complications and ways we fall short. Feasting can be a spiritual practice. Here are some ideas for how.
Practice creating your own feast(s) that nourish your soul.
My family has many different holiday traditions, some with family, some with friends, some with neighbors. Each celebrates and affirms different connections. Together they create a web of celebrations that nourish us.
As you plan your holidays ask yourself what you need to feel soul nourished and deeply connected this season. Do you want to tweak or expand some existing traditions or experiment with doing something new? How can you make your celebrations really matter?
Practice taking in the love that is present.
My Dad is a wonderful example of someone who is utterly supportive and devoted to me even though he really does not understand my work at all. At other times in my life I sorely wished that he “got it.” Today I can realize that his loving despite “getting it” is a gift of unconditional love.
It can be easy to focus on the love that is missing. I encourage you to remember to receive the love that is present. Opening your heart to the love around you helps draw it out.
Practice being a presence of love in your family.
Giving our family and friends the gift of deep listening and respect is one of the most profound loving gifts we can give. If we are not going to give that to our family and friends who will? As the songwriter Greg Brown wonderfully wrote “If you don’t get it at home you’re gonna go looking.”
At a holiday party this could mean asking questions that feel a little more personal than what might be usual for that context. It can be as simple as asking someone what was the most meaningful of their work, school, or lives in the past year.
We are all doing our best.
Given what we know, the support we have, and our circumstances, we are all doing our best. Let us see each other with that compassion.
May you be deeply nourished by the Divine fullness of love outpouring to you through your holiday feasts.
Looking for Meaningful Holiday Celebrations?
I invite you along a renewing journey through the turning of the year from Winter Solstice to New Year’s Day. Join me for celebrations on both of those days, or sign up for my newsletter to receive the 2017 New Year’s Renewing Journey Workbook.