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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  Pass (on) the Stuffing
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Wednesday, November 6,2013

Pass (on) the Stuffing

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

I always loved the intention of Thanksgiving as a holiday. A day dedicated to gratitude for the many bounties we are blessed to receive in this great country of ours. What a beautiful concept. We have our ups and downs, but relatively speaking it is difficult to argue that Americans have a lot to be grateful for. And while the history teacher in me cannot ignore that native Americans would rightfully put forth an opposing view here, the spirit of the day was inspired during a brief harmonious time when the newcomers and the natives shared similar goals. Fast forwarding to modern times, taking time out to appreciate what we have still seems like an honorable practice. Additionally, Thanksgiving now kicks off one of the most consumerdriven seasons known to man.

 

So as we’re ingesting more food than we were ever meant to in one sitting, let us give thanks and perhaps try to look inside to see what it is we really want for ourselves and for others in the upcoming holiday season.

From too much food to too much fun, I find the more I chase a feeling of satisfaction the more it eludes me. I suspect you are familiar with this cycle, especially this time of year. The “all in” mentality that typically accompanies the holidays is reinforced by that little voice in the back of our heads deluding us into believing that, come January first, we have a new lease on life. The reckless abandon of the month of December that racks up the pounds and draws down the bank account, becomes our motivation to take on the world with a whole new fervor. In many ways I am grateful, albeit amused, at this cyclical ritual that defines our consumer culture. I equate it with collective case of spiritual bulimia. Initiating with Thanksgiving, where we stuff ourselves full of food as a symbol of our gratitude, followed by Black Friday, our nationwide shopping spree, where I have at times found myself thinking, “There must be something I need!”, to the multiple weekly parties, charity functions and family gatherings that are now what we simply call, ‘The Season.’ And so it starts: the binge before the great purge. The culmination of each year finds us eating too much, drinking too much, buying too much, and doing too much. As you go through the motions this year, why not attempt to bring some mindfulness to the madness? As I attempt to play witness to my own participation in the frenzy, one theme emerges - stuffing! Stuffing our stomaches, stuffing the calendar, stuffing the shopping cart, stuffing the garbage and recycling bins. It makes me wonder: What are we trying to fill? Is all of this consumption a symbol of a greater emptiness?

As I sipped my coffee recently, in the quiet early morning hours, my stomach growled. I noticed that I felt lighter, in both body and spirit, at that time of day. Before breakfast... break...fast...The wisest spiritual leaders have been telling us for millennia upon millennia, that the path to happiness is a disciplined journey inside ourselves through meditation and some form of fasting. When the body and mind are empty, they are open to receive God’s bounty. The fewer tangibles we have in and around us, the more room we have for love. During the upcoming holiday season, we will be bombarded from every angle. Yet, the more we pile it on, the farther away we are from what it is all about: PEACE. This year, why not pass on some of the stuffing and see how much fuller we feel?

 

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