Fasten your seat beltsthe holidays are drawing near. This is a time of complete joy for some and sometimes sadness and contemplation for others. Maybe it is a time for a little of both. My dad told me the other day that last year he spent his birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving completely alone. We didn't live near him at all last year. So, there was nothing we could have done about this. I did think this was terribly sad.
This year, we are living close by so things will be different for him now. Then again, sometimes being alone is the best peace anyone can ask for. Some people dread getting together with family over the holidays. It's all a matter of perspective.
The holidays force us to take a closer look at our lives and the people who surround us. If we have had a falling out with friends or family, the holidays can make the loss worse. Maybe the holidays can provide an excuse to mend broken ties? Since Thanksgiving has lost much of its original religious significance and now centers around a feast shared with family and friends, if we are alone this can magnetize any feelings of loneliness. Are we living near family? Do we have many friends to get together with? How much money do we have? It can be extremely stressful on people who are lacking in either of these areas. I would like to think that with a bit of contemplation on what is really important in life, even if we find ourselves alone and without money, we could enjoy the spirit of this season.
Fortunately, the holiday season (here in the United States and in Canada) begins with Thanksgiving. Many people take this time to really concentrate on what they are thankful for in their lives. It's a perfect way to begin the hectic holiday season. People have different ways of thinking about what they are thankful for. We may have our good health, a nice job, friends we love, family we adore. Others may have learned valuable lessons this year or have matured into a more peaceful individual. At Thanksgiving, some people go around the table after the big feast and allow everyone to announce what they are thankful for. Others think about it privately.
My mom places a bowl on a table with sheets of paper beside it. Each person has to write what he or she is most grateful for on the sheet of paper and place this into the bowl. Later, after dinner, we sit around the table and randomly read the anonymous messages of gratefulness. I like this method because everyone can feel free to write without feeling the pressure of having to announce it to the entire table. Some people are shy. This way, nobody knows who wrote what. Although, it is fun to try and figure out which statement belongs to whom.
Hopefully, everyone takes advantage of this holiday to focus on what he or she has and not what he or she is lacking. I try to do this as often as possible throughout the year and not just for Thanksgiving. Sometimes when I can't sleep at night, I go through a list in my mind of everything I am grateful for and then I magically fall asleep. It's a natural form of a sleeping pill and the only side effect is a feeling of peace.
7 tomatoes, quartered and seeded
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup basil
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 baguettes, sliced
Combine all ingredients (except for the baguettes) into a food processor and mix well. Serve in a bowl alongside sliced baguettes. Or, place baguettes on a platter and top with bruschetta.
Also, when things aren't going exactly as I had hoped, I try to focus on the lesson learned and how I have grown as a result rather than on how I was wronged or how I lost. Sometimes this is difficult to do. However, I have found that it gets easier with practice. Some people keep a gratitude journal and begin their day with a list of what they are grateful for. I used to do this but I fell out of the habit. Maybe it's time to get that going again? It's a nice way to start the day and to get your mind thinking in a positive way.
Oh, if you aren't good at coming up with your own gratitude ideas, you should subscribe to "Notes from the universe." Go to www.tut.com and get a daily (weekdays) message of gratitude delivered to your email. I open these each weekday and the message always makes me smile. Sometimes, I swear he is writing directly to me. If nothing else, it will get you into the spirit of thankfulness that is necessary for this special holiday.
This week, I am grateful that we spent the entire weekend with a houseful of children. I love it when the house is alive with noise, laughter, and yes, sometimes bickering. Saturday night, we all went to a party at a neighbor's house. It was a potluck. Claud and I made bruschetta for the party. Bruschetta is a nice appetizer to bring to a party. It is light and flavorful. I wanted to bring something low calorie and healthy. I knew there would be a lot of other things there that weren't.
I have to admit that I was more than grateful to the person who brought the high calorie cheesy crab dip. Whoever you are I love you. I wanted her to be my best friend but I never did meet her that night. That evening I was grateful for cheesy dips. Since I don't know how she made it, I am going to give you my bruschetta recipe instead. I hope you will be thankful that I didn't figure out how to make it because I swear you would have eaten the entire bowl and regretted it later.