Dr. Natalie Gelman is an Alameda-based therapist. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website, www.drnataliegelman.com.
A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE
A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE
Thanksgiving is always celebrated at my home. The entire California family comes with their own food contributions. Last year we missed getting together as we sheltered in place, which made this year feel special.
The Sunday before the holiday, I watched the CBS News Morning Show. There was a segment about a woman who became a vegetarian because of climate change. She decided to stop eating meat and poultry. She wanted to contribute to less animals breathing carbon into the air. I have wanted to do what I can to help the environment and decided that eating meat and poultry have never been my preferences anyway. Her message was much appreciated by me.
And so, with too little time to deliberate an alternative, I prepared a turkey. The family was expecting it and were bringing items to compliment the traditional meal. It was when I began to carve the turkey, before any guests arrived, that my mood changed. I find this task to be one of the biggest challenges I have. It primarily has to do with removing the wings. The legs are a bit awkward; the breast is easy. My daughter watched me and listened to my verbalizations when I took on the wings. She said, “Walk away and relax, Mom.”
I relaxed when I reminded myself this was going to be the last turkey of my career.
At dinner we discussed switching the menu for next year and everyone agreed. In fact, like me, they intend to diminish these items altogether in their diet. As we contemplated alternatives, we finally decided that having just the accompanying foods were sufficient to have a meal that was just Thanksgiving style. That includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. Relief.
The ideas of making a change and helping the environment felt great for all of us. We tend to create rituals and then have a very difficult time diversifying. The knowledge that I can do something to make the world more inhabitable for my grandsons feels great. I want to explore other ways that I can do things differently. The changes I made years ago are a way of life now. My generation is not well-informed and we need to take the initiative.
My greatest pleasure remains being with my kids and grandchildren. I moved to California to be near them and cannot imagine how I would feel still being so far away. It is a time to cherish what we do have and take steps to achieve what we want in our lives. There is always time to self-reflect and reorient our priorities. Change is good.