This week in the United States, we’re coming upon the time-honored sacred ritual of American life, the moment of harmonious family bonding, cozy, crackling fireplaces, and delightful sharing of traditional recipes around a loaded dinner table filled with the abundance many of us are privileged to access at the tap of an app. It was my disappointment, as an Australian (dual citizen though) recently introduced to these ancient ways, that some of us no longer are game to do the exchanging of thanks around the table, because really — shouldn’t we be doing this every day?
It’s a moment to pause and think for a second about all the magic we already have in our lives, even without that one thing we just need right now, even with that crazy boss, annoying landlord, or weird skin thing behind the left knee. So before we get concerned with the turkey that won’t crisp, the relative who won’t let up, the mom who won’t sit down, or the craziness that ensues, let’s look at those good things in our lives and maybe, just this once, feel the truth of what it means to be #blessed. Here are 8 things for Jewish women to be grateful for, this Thanksgiving season and always:
For the Jewish mamas in our lives:
We love to love them, and relish in our frustration for them, but whether they’re our blood mamas or not, we all have those ladies on our lives: The women who feed us, scold us, hug us, and teach us which direction to head in based on their lived lives of wisdom and experience. They’re our Jewish mothers; our grandmothers; the older women in the office who always have a mint or a bandaid in their desk drawers; the friends who always have a cup of tea ready when we come visit; and the ladies who dole out unsolicited but somehow still loving advice in line at the grocery store. For the Jewish mothers we love, loathe, and are somehow becoming, we are grateful.
For a really good story:
We’re the People of the Book, after all, and our stories date back thousands of years — so why wouldn’t it make sense that we love the Insta-version of this ancient tradition? From the Torah’s legends to the Rabbinic fan-fic of Midrash, from Hasidic folk tales to today’s literary greats to our tribe’s social media pioneers, there’s so much to be grateful for in the magic of spinning yarns and sharing who we are, what we stand for, and what we adore through the medium of story.
For amazing food and amazing people to eat it with:
We Jewish women often share a communal interest in food: how we cook it, where we eat it, and maybe even how it affects our digestive systems… The obsession can become to our detriment as we fixate on the dos and don’ts of eating, without remembering how blessed we are to have delicious food, incredible traditions, and rituals like Shabbat dinners, Passover seders, and yes, Thanksgiving meals, to gather together and enjoy it. Plus, we are the Accredited Purveyors of Chicken Soup for the world, and how can that not be the greatest thanksgiving of all?
For our bodies:
We stare at them in front of the mirror, in selfies and in our bedrooms, wishing they were just a tiny bit different. We critique how they look, how they behave, and what we were born, but we often miss noticing that our bodies are the most incredibly magical machines that hang out with us each and every day, even when we’re not treating them so nicely. Thanksgiving for these bodies means filling them up with the right foods, giving them enough sleep, water, and love, and never failing to look in that mirror with gratitude for the gift of something beautiful to walk this world in.
For our voices:
Someone once told me to be quiet at age 8, and it stayed with me ‘til 28. Years of cultural programming have encouraged us stay quiet, stay small, be afraid to sing, afraid to lead a meeting or present an idea without a “just” tacked onto the front. But oh my Goddess, are we not in possession of the most incredible formidable instruments of power, our voices? Let’s use them to sing out songs of this revolution, to shout out truth in this world of chaos, to live with joy and fierceness and self-expression, uniting our voices in gratitude for their sound.
As fall leaves flutter into our Instagram feeds, it’s time to notice the beauty of the world that surrounds us, and how hashtag blessed we are to have the sunsets, sunrises, trees and flowers that so delight us (while we still can… climate change is real!). We’re a people surrounded by earth-based traditions, rituals for recognizing the full moon and celebrating the blossoms on the trees, and whether we choose to cultivate our own gardens, bliss out in the park, or snapchat the sunset, we’re all part of this grand design, and one that is so magical and divine, it deserves our thanks!
It’s so easy to complain about what we don’t have, and kinda challenging to focus on the magic of what’s already there. “Gratitude turns what I have into enough,” says the popular saying, and brings the basics of our lives into a full-color spectrum of beauty and wonder. The peeling paint on my apartment walls means I have a home; the slightly-snug waistband means I have enough to eat; and the exasperations of social interactions means I have people in my life. Even that ridiculous credit card bill is a sign of the wonderful experiences and opportunities I once had. Abundance and prosperity comes into our lives when we attract it with gratitude as if they are already here, and today, I’m grateful for every single penny.
Back in the day, women were all about community and shared responsibility. Our Bible tells us of sister-wives who reared and raised a nation, and of women who left the communal camp on their monthly menstrual cycle to connect and bond together, strengthening the community overall. Women danced and sang with musical instruments at the grape harvest; they howled and cried behind the funeral entourage to give honor to the dead. Our communal roles as women have been lost in today’s society, but we know from our own experiences in offices, organizations, and on dance floors that the only way we can do this is by being #strongertogether. A group of girlfriends, a set of sisters, or an amazing women’s group is the start towards building a better world, and each opportunity is one to be grateful for.