This time of year, the nights outside my window get darker, and inside I reflect a little deeper. After we turn the clocks back I start to sense a familiar feeling triggering thoughts of the past, of traditions, and of loved ones here and gone. It’s a feeling that is fed by gratitude and fellowship on Thanksgiving and is given away freely during Christmastime. It’s that holiday spirit that draws us together to keep us close through the darkest part of winter year after year—and through so much more.
Recently I did my “Conversations” exercise with a workshop group, asking them to list ten people they would love to have a conversation with today but cannot. I asked them to write down what they hoped to receive from these conversations, and what they wanted to give. Clarity? Wisdom? Forgiveness? Inspiration? Good news? Thanks? I did the exercise, too, and it was very emotional for all of us. There are two thoughts about this exercise that I’d love to share with you in this brief, one-sided conversation of a letter.
First, that word “cannot” is meant literally. At first it may seem a convenient or arbitrary word. But if you really think about it, the only time it’s impossible to speak to another person is after they have passed. While you’re both alive, there’s nothing truly preventing a conversation. This is great news, but it also means that sometimes the responsibility falls on us to make sure these conversations happen while they still can.
Second, that “cannot” always looming in the shadows is a great inspiration. There are so many conversations you can be sure to have while you have the chance. Holidays are a perfect time for these. As I prepare for our Thanksgiving gatherings, I am asking myself about the conversations I want to have. What do I want to know about my family and friends? What do I want them to know about me?
My hope for you this year is that after going around the table saying what you’re thankful for, you’ll be able to dig a little deeper with those gathered and create impactful conversations with the full scope of this exercise in mind. Listen. Engage. Participate. Ask your loved ones great questions. Give them great answers.
Think about doing this exercise fifteen years from now. Parents and mentors and friends who have passed will always be on the list, but if you make a habit of having these conversations now, you will have much more to be thankful for, and less left unknown and unsaid.
Our gift, from us at Baldwin to you and yours, is sharing the power of these conversations. Thanksgiving is a great time to start ongoing conversations with the people you love. It’s my hope that they will help you to discover and cultivate even more to be thankful for.