“Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around. As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
To prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to…
Stop trying to make everything perfect!!
Hubby and I have been hosting holiday dinners for over 20 years. I use to stress and beat myself up over making sure that every little detail was perfect.
Crisp table linen, a visually pleasing spread of desserts, a spotless home, plenty of food, a beautifully set dining table, and then some.
Although I’ve always adored decorating my home for each occasion, cooking ridiculous amounts of food, and having the over-night house guests, sometimes I stressed and fussed over details that no one even noticed… stuff that didn’t matter. So I did what I could and focused on what mattered most; the meal.
From the time I got up on Thanksgiving Day, I reminded myself to stay present. To be aware of every moment… my invigorating morning shower… the warm water clashing on my back…. the scent of lavender…Mmm.. a reflection of the sun and the odd-shaped shadow on the bathroom wall.
Being mindful and present supports a lifestyle of wellness. When we exert energy anticipating possibilities that we cannot control, we miss out on the daily pleasures of interacting with people around us. Our loved ones smile, kind gestures, affection, or a call for help.
Routinely focusing on the present takes practice and mental muscle. The more we practice, the better we become at it. One way to focus is to try to concentrate and engage one or more of your five senses:
- What do you smell?
- What can you taste?
- What do you hear? What kinds of sounds (i.e., leaves crackling under your feet, the sound of running water, a child’s laughter, the distant echoing of an ambulance siren, or in silence the sound of your breath).
- What do you see? Notice the details of colors, shapes, the sky, or a person’s eyes.
- What can you feel? Textures that are hot, cold, soft, hard, etc..
Being comfortable with doing my best, accepting my best and staying current allowed me to make the most of my day with my family. I think I listened more than usual and captured more intimate moments throughout the day.
Our home was packed! Bodies were everywhere. I concerned myself less with crumbs on the floors and coasters on the table and more on getting to know my little cousins and catching up with the adults I haven’t seen in years. The noise from the 11 kids running through the house shooting nerf guns, screaming and laughing personified quality family time. I laughed all day.
Vegan Challenge Update
This was my first Vegan Thanksgiving. Except for four family members, everyone came from at least four or more hours away. Which meant I did most of the cooking.
The day was undoubtedly a mental test for me. Was I ready to bypass the 5 pounds of baked mac & cheese and the two deep fried turkeys? My plan to cook additional vegetables for myself and five other Vegans worked well. My two favorite veggies were prepared by my cousin’s husband; roasted brussels sprouts with sweet onions and olive oil and roasted cauliflower and carrots with olive oil, Vidalia onions, and turmeric!!
In addition to the above tasty vegetables, Thanksgiving dinner included, two-deep fried turkeys, honey-ham, baked chicken, broiled salmon, shrimp cocktail, kale/collards with smoked turkey, vegan kale/collards, hot stuffing, mild stuffing, potato salad, baked mac & cheese, black-eyed peas, roasted butternut squash, spaghetti squash, traditional candied sweet potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes (with cinnamon & nutmeg only) , and plain white sweet potatoes with coconut oil. The list of desserts is too long, but there were plenty.
Here’s my plate!! Everyone was surprised that I did not cave into the mac & cheese, but I was cool with not eating it and consciously enjoyed every bite of the food on my plate. It really is amazing what we can do when we set our mind to something.
It has been over one month since I started my Vegan challenge. My major hiccup occurred last Saturday on a quick visit to Jersey. We ate at a fantastic seafood restaurant, Doc’s Oyster House in Atlantic City. Majority of the menu options is seafood. The offerings for a salad were of little interest to me… probably because I was beyond starving and I’ve eaten at Doc’s before. This would probably be the last time I visit this restaurant in a long time, so I ordered the special, which scallops. The servings are large portions, and I could only eat half my dish. I took the other half home, and my girlfriend ended up eating it. Although the food was delicious, the entire time, I kept thinking, “I’m eating seafood.”
I did, however, learn a valuable lesson. Before dining out at specialty restaurants, I should carefully read the menu online and make my selection beforehand. While writing this post, I went to their website and re-read the menu. I saw options that I missed when I was in the restaurant. I don’t know if I missed the items because of the ambiance and the dimmed light or because I got caught up in the moment or I just wasn’t paying attention. Either case, I know that mistakes happen and I learned from the error so, all is good.
Below are some photos with brief captions from Thanksgiving Day.
Quiche… pre-Thanksgiving Breakfast from the best bakery, Sweet Brown Suga!
These two beauties are my cousins. They are also Vegan.
Thanksgiving morning… help from my cousin in the kitchen.
Aunt Miriam & Aunt Clara
Breakfast and school work.
Even my little cousins enjoy a variety of fruit.
An early text from another cousin. He deep fried two 15 pound turkeys.
Holiday punch in the making… designated bartender.
Thank God for relatives who like to cook. She was a big help.
Every woman can appreciate a man who can cook (healthy) in the kitchen.
Loc inspiration from my favorite cuz! He’s also the Deep Fried Turkey expert.
The buffet line.
Dining room. Photographer: Ess.n.cee
Dining room Photographer: Ess.n.cee
Punch without the punch (alcohol). Photographer: Ess.n.cee
Cousins!! Some met for the first time.
Trying to get everyone to pose was a bit challenging.
This munchkin Loved my mom’s doll baby and wasn’t trying to give her back.
One of many attempts to get a good pic! Lol!
Two car fanatics!
Love, Love, Love! My daughter and our 84-year-old aunt haven’t seen each other in over 15 years!
My nephew, his son, and auntie!
Delivery of the ham and two turkeys in style!
A toast to family, friendship, and a splendid day!
I hope that you found gratitude in your Thanksgiving Day!