I’m thankful to have cultivated a strong personal philosophy nurtured by wisdoms passed along to me by my parents, grandparents and other elder relatives. Many of these shared ideals, beliefs and personal wisdoms were passed along to me at warm family gatherings — birthdays, holidays, other celebrations and rites of passage. Other ideas were gifted to me in casual daily conversations during life’s challenging periods, as well as times of triumph.
As I look forward to one of my favorite yearly celebrations — Thanksgiving — and to this period of harvest-time, my thoughts turn to feasts and to the warmth of family that illuminate the seasons of life and the seasons of the year. As I anticipate feasting on succulent harvest foods, I also relish the upcoming joy of shared laughter and spiritual connections with my loved ones.
As I reflect on my family and memories of favorite seasons and shared harvest times, I’m struck by the cornucopia of family wisdoms and stories I’ve gathered at dinnertime conversations. I was blessed to share celebrations, meals and daily conversations with my parents, grandparents and other elder relatives on a regular basis. In addition to sharing abundant home-cooked meals, our family also dined on a rich supply of family lore and wisdoms, shared oral histories and stories to enliven and enchant my growing mind.
My maternal grandparents always sat at each end of the long, oval table in their dining room overlooking a peaceful woods. From these positions of honor, surrounded by younger generations of family, Grandma and Grandpa shared a lifetime of adventures and wisdoms. Stories often reappeared, were told again and again, spontaneously, to impart a relevant lesson or offer support to another family member.
I remember one story my grandpa used to tell, of a quarter-mile run he participated in as a young man. He described his phenomenal, fast start and enthusiastic sprint around the track — a fantastic race until the very last few yards, when, energy spent, he collapsed shortly before the finish line. He always mused aloud to us about his miscalculation and about the importance of pacing to success.
In recent years, my family has witnessed several profound losses as well as the celebration of new life. As I continue to search for ways to navigate the loss of my dad and for strength to adapt to my new son’s medical needs, I think of a more recent wisdom shared by my mom. In her words, “Sometimes, we discover midway through a race that it has become a marathon. We have to pray for extra strength to carry us forward —as in Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.”
In this season of gratitude, I am thankful for the extra strength imparted to me by stories and wisdoms shared by my family. These provide spiritual fuel, sustenance to navigate — and thrive — in the ever-shifting seasons of life.
Photo of Anne: no caption