A year ago we were living in Barcelona. The illegal vote, which was supposed to determine Catalonian independence from Spain, happened. The weather on the mediterranean was fantastic. In my journal, I noted the patio door was wide open in the morning, catching the cool breeze.  We managed to spend many afternoons, at least for an hour or so, at Barceloneta beach. I ran along the sea in the morning.

There were no signs of the season changing, yet. The leaves do eventually fall from the trees. The wind howls and rain cools the earth, but that would come later, as we jetted off to Bangkok. For most of our days in Barca, we were ensconced in warmth. 

We didn’t feel the need to replicate the celebrations which were taking place back home. Instead, we enjoyed what was available to us. Which was how we ended up in a place called ‘Dirty Burger, Chicken Shop’ on Thanksgiving Sunday. This little hole in the wall place was steps from our apartment and was the closest thing to a turkey dinner we were going to get in Catalonia.

Traditionally, back home in Canada, communities would gather for a feast around the time when the crops were coming in. This ritual was extremely important as it honoured the bounty which would last the winter. It was not until January 31, 1957, the Governor General of Canada Vincent Massey issued a proclamation stating:

“A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed – to be observed on the second Monday in October.”

As we moved towards ever fewer and larger farming operations, the average persons connection to the harvest diminished. Most families are not celebrating the holiday from an agrarian perspective anymore. However, the name ‘thanksgiving’ lives on as an extremely appropriate sentiment.

I would argue, we should go back to having every Sunday’s dinner being a time of giving thanks. Not necessarily according to religious tradition, but certainly for all the facets of our lives which we are grateful for. Even those who appear to have less, still have much to celebrate. 

For our family, in the whirlwind of preparing for and then starting our year-long trip, we had fallen out of our habit of being grateful to each other. So, on that Sunday in October last year, we started up again. Going around the table, naming what we were grateful for. It didn’t have to be a big thing. If I remember correctly, one of us mentioned the burgers!

Still, our perception of the world was not grounded in gratitude yet. We had a mountain of expectations to overcome. We had comparisons popping up everywhere. Even our living circumstances seemed fraught with ‘down-grades’, like sharing one family shower, very small bedrooms, a tiny kitchen without all the appliances we were used to, etc. The list of ways which life was ‘not as good’ was endless, if you wanted to look at things that way.

Slowly, as the days in Barcelona ticked by we eased into our new life. Becoming grateful for that which you never thought you wanted is a tough thing. Yes, we wanted the adventure of travel. But, we hadn’t really wanted to sacrifice anything for it. Yet, when we accepted the differences to our life back home, we became extremely happy with the small things.

Having the ability to buy fresh bread each morning, across the street. Navigating the alleyways of our community without the app from our phones. Heading out on public transit to explore a new sight. Waking each morning with no responsibilities for home maintenance. Freedom for how to spend our time each day. And the list goes on.

What it really comes down to is choice. How do you want to spend the moments of your life? On one hand that could be an attitude or practice of gratitude. On the other hand it could be a lifetime of comparison and judgement. Both of these paths involve a habit, which can be changed by developing a practice.

Too bad it seems so difficult to move towards gratitude. Our modern society seems to reward those who are striving to be better than someone else. The rewards are never for the sake of personal improvement. Rather the best outcome is at the expense of another. It does not have to be that way.

On this weekend of giving thanks, it seems an extremely appropriate time to start a practice of gratitude. Simply spend some moments, each day listing what you are grateful for. Don’t stop. Do it everyday. Don’t try to measure the effects, you can’t. Trust that your mind will slowly start to look at the world in a slightly more positive way. It takes awhile and you will not notice as it is happening.

Which reminds me to get back to my gratitude journal. I started one when I returned from my trip. I faithfully wrote for 7 days. One week. Then I quit. Life was busy and good. The effects of my practice seemed evident. So I stopped. Then, slowly, negativity seeped in. Like a slow rising flood, the water goes into every nook and cranny. Luckily, I know how to fix this.

Back to it. Pencil to paper. Thoughts of gratitude from my head through my hand, coming to life on the page. It is as simple and complicated as that. I am only bound to show up and do the work. The miracle of feeling grateful, will do the rest.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Join me in this creative journey. I am on a mission to start a global movement, focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com #creaspatreat

My creative year:
: : Developing, testing and enjoying a life I don’t need a vacation from while working in an office and commuting on public transit! 
: : This is where my ideas for creaspatreat will come to life. Don’t miss any of it by joining us!
: : Check out new projects on my youtube channel called creative wandering. #dailycreatives

Published books:
: : “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power

Would you like a free download of….
: : The first chapter from Fruitless at 40 and
: : My tried and true packing list, developed from long-term, around the world travel?
: : Join us!

Daily Creatives Resources:
: : Travel changes a person
: : Anthropocene, Living in the Future’s Past and Daring to Lead
: : Teach women, invest in a community
: : Crea.spa.treat. what do you think it means?
: : Living in stress, moving to relaxation, looking for ikigai

Christine Westermark

I am a world traveller, lucky enough to have a loving family who support my dreams to learn, create and give back by designing creative content which enables a lifestyle we don't need a vacation from.

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Dirty burger, chicken shop

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