Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I still remember my family’s first Thanksgiving eight months after we arrived from Poland. I was in first grade and came home to tell my parents who barely spoke English that we had to celebrate and needed to buy a turkey. They didn’t know what I was referring to because there are no turkeys in Poland, so I drew a picture of a “big chicken.”
I want to start by thanking you for reading our Wisnik Weekly and to share a few tips for celebrating Thanksgiving during these challenging times.
Focus on what you can control. For me this starts with managing my mind. If we don’t manage our mind, especially during difficult times, we become overwhelmed by all the bad things we see on the news, and this stops us from taking the very actions that make us feel in control of our lives.
Every day I train my mind to focus on the good. This looks like noticing a still blooming rose in November, or a red light that turns green just as I get to the corner, or a post about a client getting promoted. Tony Robbins always says, “The bad is always available and so is the good!”
Be (extra) kind. People everywhere are struggling, and as a Jewish refugee whose family fled antisemitism, I can tell you many of us are deeply frightened. Hate kills and kindness heals.
Take every opportunity you have to be kind. This could be reaching out to a colleague and asking how they’re feeling and just listening. As humans we are wired for community. Feeling alone or abandoned makes us feel unsafe. This applies to the un-housed person you pass on the street. Smiling at them and making them feel seen could feel like a gift.
Express gratitude. Fear and gratitude cannot coexist. Practicing gratitude is more important than ever. This could entail writing down all the things you’re grateful for in your life, writing a note to a mentor who has been instrumental in your career, or even writing a review for your favorite new restaurant. I like to send out little gifts with handwritten notes to clients. The act of writing these notes and expressing gratitude brings me deep joy.
During these dark times, I want to share a positive story with you. Our 22-year-old son Jake has been living in Poland since September. He was granted a fellowship to work at the Krakow JCC. Since Oct 7th, the JCC has been housing Israeli families. Some of these families are Ukrainians who fled to Israel to be safe. Last week Jake told me he was sitting at the JCC in a room set up with WiFi for these refugees and a “regular” showed up because he needed some computer help. This 94-year-old man had survived 5 concentration camps. Jake sat between him and a 32-year-old Israeli father whose family was on vacation in Europe when the war erupted. The three of them discussed the world situation. What struck me about this story is that Poland was now a safe haven for Jews, something unimaginable for most of my life. To have my own son living in the very country that I was forced to leave, and working to help refugees is so incredibly full circle. There is so much to be grateful for.
Thank you for all of your support and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!