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  • Writer's pictureHannah E Greenwood

Thanksgiving in Manhattan


Those of you who are regular readers will know that in Thanksgiving week, every November, I write a Perspectives Post to celebrate this special occasion. And you will also know that for 13 consecutive years I have annually hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in London.


This began back in 2010 when two of my American friends were stuck in London and I blithely offered to cook their Thanksgiving dinner. I had assumed it would be simply roasting a turkey with its trimmings but how wrong I was! I discovered there are, within each American family, deeply entrenched expectations of what must be served at the Thanksgiving table. As in all cultures, this ritual of ‘breaking bread’ together has profound emotional and psychological resonance, unconsciously connecting us to our ancestral roots. We can all get surprisingly upset when long held, unquestioned traditions are altered, even if the change is infinitely for the better.


In keeping with the American custom, we observe the Thanksgiving tradition of sharing what we are thankful for. I deeply love this ritual: it is a meaningful pause as we approach the end of the year, allowing us a moment to reflect on the year behind us before we begin the sparkling festivities of December and create our hopes and wishes for the forthcoming year.


There have been years when giving thanks has been joyous and easy, when the festival catches us in a happy moment in our lives. And there have been years when it has been tough, when some of us are in a place of adversity or sorrow and sharing has been painful. Either way we have learned not to sit in isolation. That to share the happy and also the sad times in our lives is what brings us even closer.


In October’s Perspectives Post: Equanimity: finding our inner poise I discussed the four components that create the Equanimity pipeline: Gratitude, Acceptance, Forgiveness and Hope. As I focussed on writing the Gratitude component, I was very conscious of this beautiful ritual of Thanksgiving:


‘Gratitude:What really helps ground me fast when I’m feeling destabilised, is connecting to thankfulness. To all that is good in my life, however challenging or dark it might feel in the moment. I start with baby steps: small and obvious things, but as I get into the rhythm of naming what I’m thankful for, my list deepens and each time an extraordinary thing happens. As I begin to let go of all that is wrong in my life, everything I feel anxious or hurt about, and focus on all that is good in my life, I experience an energetic, visceral shift: my heart opens, and I feel a warmth and peace flowing through me.


From this place of gentle gratitude, I go into my ‘Stillness’ and tune into my inner voice, my intuitive intelligence. From here I gain a sense of perspective: is this a real crisis, relative crisis…or no crisis? Understanding which one it is, gives me a sense of how I can respond going forwards. As Victor Frankl taught us: ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’ We cannot always stop external events from happening, but we can create a pause in how we choose to react. This is what we can control. We can focus on what is going to bring us inner strength and equilibrium in that ‘space between’, i.e. what will stabilise us.’


As we draw near to this year’s Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow, what am I thankful for?


This is what I wrote in our 2022 Thanksgiving Perspectives Post: ‘As I look back at 2022, the turning point for me this year was late April when I was catapulted into the next stage of my quest for deeper connection and intimacy. In Receiving: an act of love I disclosed that: ‘My focus on giving was out of balance and masking a blind spot in me, namely that I didn’t know how to receive. And so, I had to go down THAT rabbit hole!


How can I spend so much time and energy creating the right mindset and conditions for the future I want, if I panic and potentially reject it when it comes in? Am I getting in my own way? What if the Chi/life force energy is all around me and I’m stopping it coming to me? Or worse, it’s already there and I’m blocking myself from feeling or seeing it? But if I’m the block, then that is something I can influence and change. And that’s where I am now in my learning. I am consciously exploring my reactions to the gifts life brings me; I am noting and gradually understanding my resistance, my disbelief and sometimes my fear, and I am experimenting with what helps me open up to receive.’


My overall wish for 2023 was to have ‘a year rich in love, sparkle… and great magic!’ In order to experience such riches, I knew I had to continue letting go of those worn out, archaic injunctions that were stopping me from truly opening up to receiving such joyous wealth. I have continued…sometimes by conscious choice, often by enforced surrender!... to let go and open up and it has proved another powerfully life-transforming year.


This year will be our 14th annual Thanksgiving celebration and it is especially magical. After years of celebrating in London, it will now be in Manhattan. Earlier this year, my son, Louis, manifested a long held personal vision to live and work in NYC and he and his new wife moved here two months ago. And I am visiting them for Thanksgiving week. Life is extraordinary with many miraculous twists and turns!


So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and, wherever you are in the world, how about taking a moment to pause and allow yourself to open up and receive all the love, sparkle and great magic that is already now in your life…and all that is to come!

Hannah Elizabeth Greenwood

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