We have a tradition in our family of playing a simple game at dinner. We go around the table and everyone shares the high and low point of their day. One is not allowed to say “I had no high” or “I had no low” as the high and low is a way of bracketing the day. If one of us had a spectacular day on all fronts then the swing might not be as pronounced (High: I got an A on my Math test. Low: We had mystery meat for lunch at school). We began to play this game when our kids were moving into the sullen years so that they would participate and share. It’s remarkable actually what you can learn from just the high and low of someone’s day. It’s also remarkable how we ourselves can grow and thrive from considering the silver linings of each of our experiences. The stuff of resilience is made of this.
The month of November holds my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. It is a non denominational holiday and includes everyone. The entire day is all about what’s important: community, food, sharing, gratitude. There are few things I love more than gathering around a well set table with biological and chosen family, friends old and new, a few non US citizens and a few stragglers.
In our house we have a Thanksgiving guestbook in which each guest signs and writes what they are thankful for that year. Over the years it has been great fun to look back through the entries. Even in the dark years I see that each of us found some way to find gratitude. I do believe it has served our family well. I do believe this is a key to moving through life’s up and downs.
This month I’d like to invite you to join me in a game. Through the month of November I’m going to post daily my high and low from the previous day along with a line on what makes me grateful about each experience. If you choose to read my entries you’ll find out a lot about the way my heart and mind works (for better or for worse) and I’d love to learn about yours as well. My not-so-hidden agenda is that we will all be reminded of just how much there is to be grateful for in these crazy lives of ours. There is always a reason to find gratitude.
I’m going to make November about being present to the lessons and the gifts in all experiences. There’s a lot to let go of. There’s a lot to hold on to. High Low with Gratitude helps keep it in perspective.
This is not a competition. This is an exercise in personal insight. It is my belief that through the expression of gratitude one’s sense of well being goes up in tandem. Let me know what you think and I do hope you will join me each day or drop in randomly.
So here goes (and I will post this on my Facebook Author page each day):
DailyHigh: Attending the Festival of Altars at Dia de los Muertos in the Mission of San Francisco (in full sugar face costume replete with pink accents and Charlotte’s prayer card hanging on a ribbon pinned to my skirt). (Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Meso-American holiday dedicated to the ancestors; it honors both death and the cycle of life. In Mexico, neighbors gather in local cemeteries to share food, music, and fun with their extended community, both living and departed. The celebration acknowledges that we still have a relationship with our ancestors and loved ones that have passed away. The skulls and white faces that participants wear are done out of reverence for the deceased to make them feel welcome upon their return visit. It is not grim at all. In fact, the scene is both somber and celebratory. Garfield Park was filled with alters for the candlelit evening.)
Daily Low: Walking through the candlelit event and missing my daughter Charlotte.
High Gratitude: Learning about how other cultures honor their deceased gives me perspective on my own loss
Low Gratitude: I’m grateful to be able to settle quietly into my dark spaces with the knowledge that I won’t stay there forever