Potluck Constellation

The benefits of everyone sharing something at a potluck dinner is not new, but the Thanksgiving gathering I attended this year took it to another level. In a way, it felt like a potluck Family Constellation. The guests ranged in age from 24 to 96, and each person had a place, a role, and was valued. Some were biological family, some were chosen family, and some had never met before. It was quite an eclectic group, and I was honored to be a part of it. 

My friend Carrie’s parents hosted the event at the clubhouse in their community. They live on Honeymoon Island, a barrier island off the west coast of Florida. It was a beautiful, newly renovated space right on the water with huge windows offering spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico. Not a bad place to celebrate gratitude!

Since the responsibility of cooking the meal did not fall on just one person, it felt like everyone could relax a little bit more and enjoy the surroundings and each other’s company. Carrie’s parents prepared a turkey and some pies, and except for me, each guest brought a side dish or dessert. Now before you judge me for not contributing, I did help Carrie make stuffing the night before by chopping bread, parsley, and tarragon. I also washed some dishes.

However, Carrie’s mother gave me the perfect job. She asked if I would keep an eye on the individuals who arrived by themselves and help them feel comfortable and included. That was right up my alley since that’s what I do for a living. I’ll be the first to admit I am much better at making conversation than a green bean casserole! At the end of the night, her mom thanked me for doing such a wonderful job. I told her there was no need to thank me. It was a joy to learn about these new people.

Before we grabbed plates and piled on the food, Carrie’s father asked us to circle up by the buffet table. He invited each of us to share what we were grateful for this year. As I mentioned, many of us had never met. Being vulnerable and sharing gratitude with a group of new people was a powerful way to begin new friendships. It also gave each person an equal voice and place in the circle, no matter their relationship to the group. I think it was a brilliant suggestion. 

I was shocked to learn the person who shared first had celebrated 96 birthdays! She was full of life and vitality as she expressed her deep gratitude for being invited to this gathering. Sadly, her children and grandchildren could not be with her this year, so she thought she would be spending the day alone. It was a treat to have her at my table. I loved hearing her stories about living in New York City in the 30s and 40s. Apparently, her weekly voice lesson was scheduled after a famous Hollywood actor and opera singer named Mario Lanza. Her eyes sparkled with nostalgic enchantment as she recalled the first time she heard him sing and the way his voice made the crystal chandelier vibrate. 

Later, Carrie’s dad asked everyone to quiet down so the young people could share what they were up to. It struck me that there was no separate “kid’s table” or “adult conversation.” Being put on the spot may have made them uncomfortable, but it didn’t stop them from sharing the exciting projects they were working on. Not only did we learn a little about them, but the request also let them know we valued their presence. The next day, I found out those young people told their parents that it was the best Thanksgiving they ever had. What a testament to the loving and generous spirit of this beautiful family. We all felt like we belonged, just like in Family Constellations.

Speaking of Family Constellations, my last online group session of the year is happening on Saturday, December 11 from 2-5 PM Eastern / 1-4 PM Central Time. Now that the holiday season is in full swing, it felt like a good time to “Balance the Energy of Giving and Receiving with Family Constellations.” If you are someone who often feels depleted this time of year, this workshop is for you! Space is limited to 15 participants, so purchase your ticket today!

This week, may you find yourself in groups and situations where you know you belong. And whenever possible, do your best to help create experiences that let others know they belong too… 

When you have learned that you belong to truth, it will flow lightly over you without a difference of any kind.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-13.XI.6:6

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