Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving and Shabbat Dinner

This past week we celebrated Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays to spend with the family. There's a major concept to be learned from this holiday - the concept of haKarat haTov - Recognizing the Good. Obviously this isn't something we should only do once a year, but every day! However, the week is a hectic time and Shabbat Friday night dinner is a better time to reflect on the week past.

Shabbat is the time of the week where we take a "time out" from being the creators and shapers of the world around us to "just being" and enjoying the fruits of our labors. Friday night dinner, whether formal or not, is a great time for the family to get together (without distraction or places to run to) and actually spend an hour or two with those closest to us.

It's during this time together that I want to suggest an idea that my mother instituted years ago at our own Friday night dinners - the 3 Gratefuls. It seems that at the time the Gratefuls were brought in, our conversations at the table were not following a positive note and my mom felt that she needed to point out to us the good things that had happened during the week.

Each one of us at the table, including any guests (we tried to warn them ahead of time), had to come up with three things that we were grateful for that had occurred during that past week. There were a few rules that guided us, these were:
* It couldn't be sports related.
* It couldn't be - "thank goodness the week was over".
* It couldn't be for a future event.

Gratefuls could be small things, or big things. You couldn't opt out of doing your 3 Gratefuls either, no matter how rough the week was (and there were some tough ones). It forced us to review the week and recognize the good that happened or was done for us. It also forced us to be a part of each others lives as a family - since all week long was spent running our different ways.

One example of a Grateful by my father on Friday night is that he thanks my mother for making him lunch every day to take to work. Making a lunch may seem like a small event during the course of the week, but when my father makes note of it (every week) - it shows recognition and appreciation of the good done for him.

HaKarat haTov is no small thing. Recognizing the good - big or small, making someone lunch or getting a raise - is all about seeing your life in a different and positive way. I sincerely recommend instituting the 3 Gratefuls at your Friday night dinner - it will truly improve the way you see your life as well as serve as a bonding experience for you and your family.

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