The Centerpiece

Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday created symbolically around a gathering of traditions, uniting cultures amongst significant differences.  The concept that food would create an ambience of exploration and friendship has carried many into inviting this tradition into their heart and physically into their homes.  When you arrive to the United States, you are drenched in a variety of holidays and traditions that are typically not a part of what you were accustomed to in your homeland.  However, you embrace what is being offered and meld what you might bring to the table.

Thanksgiving is one of the favorites, creating an atmosphere of union, embellished with an abundance of food, family, and friends.  The concept of gratitude shared on this day (and hopefully carried out to everyday!) can be life-altering.  The idea of helping others, or being present for those with true needs, is thematic around this time of year.  It’s a time when reflection is valid and on the surface for people. Even though my mantra is to be grateful for each day, have compassion for others and live from a place of love and kindness, I encourage those on their journey to accept this annual holiday as a place to begin the process, or at least allow for the benefit of what it represents.

I do realize, that for some, it means football and an exorbitant amount of food; but the reality is that many go without on this day, and so to make it a shallow experience is not the goal.  Choose one thing, or one person you are grateful for this day and everyday, and somehow allow that to lead you because that is where it all begins – your center.

My family has had decades of Thanksgiving celebrations since arriving in the United States, but the stories are comical, to say the least.  In speaking to my friends who were also immigrants of the era in which my roots were transplanted, the nuances around Thanksgiving are quite similar and joyous to share.  Upon arriving, my parents were unclear as to why there was no school and why some stores were not open on this fourth Thursday in November.  But thanks to my sister’s persistence and interest in bringing my parents up to speed, our family has been celebrating this holiday and sharing various traditions.

While in elementary school, my sisters came home telling my parents that they wanted to celebrate the holiday the same way their friends did and asked our father to buy them a turkey.  The turkey arrived in the hands of my mother and, well, there it remained until Thursday of the national holiday.  Certainly is was seasoned con mojo, in traditional Caribbean seasonings, and prepared for baking.  My father and sisters decided to hit the grocery store to get some more traditional items for the holiday, but on that Thursday, everything was closed.  There were no typical sides of yams, stuffing, or pumpkin pies.  Not to worry, though, because there was arroz con frijoles negros, pernil, platanos, yuca y ensalada followed by flan estilo Cubano.  The turkey remained on the table as our centerpiece that year, so the story goes.  Forty years later, we gather with Cuban trimmings alongside the swiss chard, leeks, carrots, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and apple pie.

In essence, this was the beginning of what became a tradition for us, combining what my parents brought to this day with trying to figure out what we liked and how we could create the presence of gratitude in our lives with our loved ones to the best of our capacity.  I encourage you to find your own center…piece as a part of your practice, whether in asana, meditation, or mindfulness.  Take the time to self-reflect and find compassion for yourself so that you may then share that with others.  Sending joy and healing energy on this Thanksgiving and each day.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Virginia
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 22:08:59

    Bea, I loved this piece, in particular the part of Thanksgiving, Cuban style. Forty years later, in our family, the turkey is more of a centerpiece and what everyone digs into is the pernil, black beans, and rice! Thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts and have happy Thanksgiving!


  2. Anne
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 20:58:46

    Thankful (from afar) for reconnecting with you this year. You’ll always be family to me!


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