Coming “home” for Thanksgiving

“I’ve learned that home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.”—Cecelia Ahearn

Coming “home” for Thanksgiving can be celebrated in many ways—from joyously sharing food in large gatherings to entertaining with a select few.

Different emotional needs emerge, depending upon our life circumstances. Some may enjoy the company of new extended families. Others prefer sitting quietly in front of a crackling fire, with a journal or a book, finding respite and comfort in making the holiday their own private day of gratitude.

Then there are the bereaved, who can be in a crowded room yet feel alone as they silently grieve the loss of a loved one who will not be sitting at the dining room table this year. Or, there are those who are missing family and friends who are far away.

Crying is okay; it’s normal to miss those we love. To pretend otherwise by repressing emotions can cause anxiety. Set aside time ahead to feel your feelings may help ease the pain before entering a gathering. I have my own ritual for dealing with sad feelings of loss on holidays. I spend a few quiet moments placing my hand over my heart, sending love and prayers to those I cannot be with for whatever reason. I then wait in silence, slowly and sometimes deeply, feeling the connection to them with pure unconditional love.

No matter where we find ourselves in life, the deeper calling during the holidays is often to find a way to center in ourselves amongst all the activities, personalities and expectations.

Here are some ideas for connecting to the home within you to embrace the holiday with a greater sense of fulfillment:

  • Set your own intentions for honoring the ways you feel grateful this Thanksgiving. Is there a random act of kindness you could do that may fill you up more than the food on your plate? Is there someone who could benefit from hearing from you?
  • Pace yourself according to your temperament. Extroverts gain energy from other people, often relishing all the socializing. Introverts often require alone time to recharge after being with people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
  • Choose to extend love and acceptance, versus judgment, to those placed before you. Panache Desai says it best: “Accepting the perceived imperfections of others is accepting the perfection of life.” The Course in Miracles urges us to look within when we are tempted to judge, claiming, “When we see others we do not love, we are seeing parts of ourselves that we reject.”
  • Be kind to yourself, greeting the day with joy and compassion for the moments before you no matter how they unfold.
  • Let go of the holiday script and make new memories of gratitude.
  • Spend time in nature, which is calming.
  • Give someone a hug, share a laugh, and say thank you to life.

No matter where you find yourself this Thanksgiving, remember this longing for authenticity we often share:
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou

Happy Thanksgiving.

With gratitude and blessings,



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  • Dick says:

    As usual, Gail, perfectly expressed.
    I wish you and your amazing family a very happy Thanksgiving!

    Continue spreading your messages.


  • Shani Fox says:

    Beautiful message, Gail, especially the quote from Panache Desai. I’m going to post that one so I don’t stray too far from “home”this Thanksgiving. Wishing you a joyful and meaningful holiday!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thank you, Shani. I’m thankful you found Panache Desai’s quote so helpful for centering in “home” this Thanksgiving. Blessings, Gail

  • Jess Ann Cullen says:

    Beautiful message and great wisdom for the often sensed chaos and pretense of the holiday season. Great reminders for me. Home is what we make it. I love your wisdom of taking time out to regroup before a holiday gathering or function. Preparation is needed for many successes. Family and social gatherings are no different. God bless Gail!! May your Thanksgiving be very richly and warmly fill you with comfort of loved ones and cherished memories.

    Love you,

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      So happy to hear from you, wise Jess! Thanks for sharing your insights, and taking the time during this busy season to post such a thoughtful comment. Miss you (and the best weather of the year in AZ!). May you feel cherished and loved at Thanksgiving…and always. Much love, Gail

  • Larry Strait says:

    On Nov 21, 2018, at 10:33 AM, Larry Strait wrote:

    Gail this says so much about Thanksgiving, and what it means. I thank you for those wonderful words that should help to give all that read, the true joy, meaning, and thanks for this wonderful day. For no matter where one may be, or how many people they may share the day with, your words should inspire all.

    I spoke of how many people one will share the day with. For me, with my family living in Michigan and Wisconsin, I will not be sitting down and having dinner in the home of others…but I will not be alone.

    Thanksgiving morning, I plan to prepare my Thanksgiving dinner, then put it in my knapsack, put that knapsack on my back, and climb to the summit of Lookout mountain, which at 4,000 ft is the highest mountain
    Peak in the McDowell Mountains range in Scottsdale, AZ. From that peak I should be able to see most of the Phoenix Valley. When I reach that peak, I plan to sit down, open my knapsack, take out my Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy it. One might think I will be eating alone. But I will not be, because there in front of me will many of 4-plus million people that make up the Phoenix Valley enjoying there Thanksgiving dinner with me.

    Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you, Gail

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Larry: Sounds like you created a perfect nurturing day for yourself in nature (one of the best places to practice self-care). I wish I was hiking Lookout Mountain with you. I love Raleigh, NC, since relocating here this summer, and all the nature and green, but there is nothing like those views from the mountaintops of Arizona. The hiking there was awesome. Happy Thanksgiving to you and may you be richly blessed today and always. With gratitude, Gail

  • Bev Wax says:

    Thank you Gail once again for beautifully saying what Thanksgiving is really all about. Hope your holiday was wonderful no matter how you spent it!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thank you, Bev, for the kind words on my writing and wishes for a wonderful holiday. I am acclimating to my new life in Raleigh, NC, and feeling grateful for the many kindnesses shown to me. Blessings, Gail

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