Ceremonies large and small have the power to focus attention to a way of living awake in the world.

Robin Wall Kimmerer ~ Braiding Sweetgrass

Since the beginning of agrarian activities, the success of the harvest predicated the ability to survive the winter. Some of the first evidence we have of feasting ceremonies coincide with the Neolithic Revolution – when there was a great shift from hunter-gatherer bands to agrarian societies with communal living, agriculture, and the domestication of animals. During this time harvest festivals emerged all around the world. They may have been conceived as a way to facilitate trust and shared identity before the ravages of hunger set in and put people at odds over resources. There is evidence that these first crops were believed to have spirits within, much as the hunter-gatherer may have attributed spirits within the buffalo and bear. This gave way to the appearance of goddesses that carried animistic associations like the fertility of the Corn Mother. As people shifted from a sense of being one with nature to pursuing mastery over nature their grammar and their gods appeared to shift as well.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks of revisiting the animistic grammar of indigenous languages as a way to have a more intimate connection with nature. What happens when we think of a maple tree or blueberry plant as she instead of it? Do the maple syrup and blueberries on your pancakes feel more like gifts? Are they now somehow sweeter, more precious, and deserving of your undivided attention? Does it prompt feelings of gratitude? Do you want to reciprocate? Here are 5 simple thanks giving rituals, inspired by our ancestors, to incorporate into your plans and preparation this week.

  1. Try getting as close as you can to the source of your fruits and vegetables. Bring home a potted sage and use the leaves in your dressing. Go to a farm and pick the apples for your pie. Visit a farm stand or farmers market to shop for your veggies.
  2. Switch out ingredients to eliminate processing. Use maple syrup to sweeten your desserts and fresh herbs to enliven your side dishes.
  3. As you prepare your recipes envision each tree or plant as she and silently thank her for her gifts.
  4. Think about how you can use the day to mend fences with family members or neighbors.
  5. Consider those who may be hungry or alone and gift a meal – one you’ve made yourself to someone you know or by donating time or resources to organizations such as these:

Family to Family https://www.family-to-family.org/help-a-hungry-family/

Feeding America https://www.feedingamerica.org/

Food for Life https://ffl.org/23980/thanksgiving-donations/

Los Angeles LGBT Senior Food Pantry https://lalgbtcenter.org/social-service-and-housing/senior/food-pantry

NY CityMeals on Wheels https://www.citymeals.org/