Tag Archives: Thanksgiving



Tonight, I will light three candles for the third night of Hanukkah. As I’ve written before, Hanukkah is a fairly minor Jewish festival.  It commemorates the victory of the small but mighty band of Maccabees who fought against the army of King Antiochus.  Antiochus wanted to outlaw the practice of Judaism.  When the Maccabees liberated the temple in Jerusalem, it had been desecrated and so needed to be cleansed.  The story goes that there was only enough oil to light the holy menorah over the altar for one night, but a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted for eight nights, enough to allow more oil to be prepared.

Every year I ponder why this festival is significant, and there are many explanations.  This year, I’m focusing on the concept of “dedication,” which is the translation of the Hebrew word “Hanukkah.”  In the case of the holiday, it refers to the Jews regaining control, cleansing and rededicating the temple.  For me, this year represents my rededication to myself.  There have been many dreams in my life that I’ve allowed to fall by the wayside.  I’ve focused on my family, my career and the many responsibilities I’ve taken upon myself.  But I’ve also begun to feel the urgency of time and the drive to revisit some of those old dreams before it’s too late.

I read a post recently on social media about the various famous people who had begun their careers later in their lives, many after already achieving success in some other profession.  It reminded me that regardless of my current age, there is still time and a place to realize some of my goals.  The key is to stay focused and to be realistic.  This year, I am dedicating myself to figuring out which of my early dreams to pursue and to create a plan to achieve them.

I also dedicate myself to letting go of those dreams that are the stuff of childhood.  I was a pretty dreamy child, spending my afternoons lying in the grass looking up at the clouds, creating stories about my life.  When I wasn’t outside, I was curled up with a book, imagining myself in the words of someone else.  As an adult, I have often felt disappointed that life isn’t the fairytales of my youth.

So now it’s time for me to separate the fairytales from the reality of my life.  What can I achieve?  What dreams do I want to hold onto and pursue?  What am I ready to let go of?  And, in this darkest part of the year, how will I find the light to guide me on my path?  Tonight, I will light three candles, and one more every night until all eight are illuminated.  And this week I will dedicate myself to remembering that I can carry that light with me all year.


On more thing.  For those of you who followed my adventures in gardening this summer, I have a few final pictures.  The last pumpkins have been harvested, cooked and turned into pies and my sweet potatoes continue to fill us up.  Most recently, they were a yummy stuffing on Thanksgiving.  Enjoy!



About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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The Other Side of the Couch:  Gratitude – It Works


GratitudeGratitude.  Who knew that the act of giving thanks had such profound effects on so many things? The act of being grateful on a regular basis has been shown to diminish cortisol levels in the body by a significant amount and to increase variability in heart rate coherence patterns, both of which are an indication of lowered stress levels (McCraty and colleagues, 1998).

In addition to improvement of personal health, expressing gratitude has recently been shown to have a clear protective effect on relationships.  In a study that recently appeared in the journal “Personal Relationships,” results indicated that expressions of gratitude helped relationships in measurable ways.

“Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” says study co-author Ted Futris.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for our relationships is to engage in a daily practice of gratitude.  This can be done in a number of different ways.  Taking stock of the day, focusing before you go to sleep on five things for which you are grateful is one way.  Writing them down seems to help anchor the experience.  Notice how your body feels when you focus on things for which you are grateful – many people experience a sense of relaxing on the inside, perhaps a feeling of warmth.  These steps can be personally helpful in alleviating stress.

Expressing gratitude to others seems to be remarkably helpful in keeping relationships on an even keel.  Making a daily practice of expressing appreciation and gratitude to your partner, children, friends, and business associates really does make relationships better.  I recommend to the couples with whom I work that thinking about, looking for, and expressing thanks on a daily basis is an incredibly powerful tool that can keep your relationship connected.  Give it a try.  You will be glad you did.

Happy Day of Thanksgiving!


McCraty, R., Barrios-Choplin, B., Rozman, D., Atkinson, M. & Watkins, A. (1998). The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science, 32, 151-70.

Barton et.al, Linking Financial Distress to Marital Quality:  The Intermediary Roles of Demand/Withdraw and Spousal Gratitude Expressions, Personal Relationships, 22, (2015), 536-549.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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The Other Side of the Couch – Happy Holidays?


I am sitting here this morning, Thanksgiving morning, and musing on the holiday expectations that we all bring to these times.  The picture of the Norman Rockwell family, gathered around the laden table, faces smiling in anticipation of the feast to come, is engrained in our collective psyche.  Magazines over the last month have been filled with recipes for “The Most Sumptuous, Easiest Thanksgiving Feast Ever.”  Methods for creating the perfect table setting, the perfect appetizer, the perfect pumpkin pie, abound.

I am one of the fortunate ones in that I do have a loving family and a family table to prepare.  Although I am not hosting the feast this year, I will be part of one.  And yet, I know all too well that these holidays often bring not joy, but turmoil and sadness to many.

So today, I am writing for those whose holidays are not filled with joy, whose family tables are filled with strife or silence or fear, who wait for the explosion, or the blows, or the criticism.  And for those who have no table, and who will go hungry, not only on this day, but on many others.  And for those who have no home, no place of warmth, no place to lay a weary head.  I am writing for the children who will be passed back and forth by acrimonious and angry parents, divorced, unconsciously still taking out their wars on their hapless children.  I am writing for the lonely ones, who will spend this day taking care of themselves the only way they know how…maybe by drinking too much, or eating too much.

I don’t have good answers for you.  These holidays are hard, and that is the truth.  In a culture filled with so much abundance, to be both physically and emotionally without resources is a hard blow to take.

So, rather than give you advice, I will tell you a story.

I was at my church’s regular Wednesday night dinner, and it happened to be the Thanksgiving celebration.  This was one of the coldest nights of the year in Nashville so far, going down into the teens, and because of this, our church had added extra nights of Room in the Inn.  The Room in the Inn guests came to the church dinner that night.  As it happened, part of the program was a presentation of a recent mission trip taken by adults from the church to a program in Guatemala that serves children and their families.

After the program, one of the Room in the Inn guests approached our senior minister, and handed him six dollars, requesting that this money go to help the children in the program he had just seen.  This man, homeless and down on his luck, gave the little he had to help a child who had less.

I happened to be standing next to them when this exchange happened, and I saw his face.  He was filled with emotion, and he was proud to be able to do something.  He regained some sense of himself as a man, a giver rather than a taker, in that exchange.

When we are in circumstances that we cannot control, when we are stuck in some situation that seems beyond help, sometimes we have to go outside a logical response.  That man knew that, for tonight, he had food, and a warm place to sleep, and would have breakfast in the morning.  He gave out of his abundance to someone who had less.  I am guessing that gesture changed his sense of himself.  Maybe there is a way we can think outside our boxes, too.

May your holidays be filled with compassion and awareness.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”

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Holidays for Savvy Cooks

Basket of Fruit and Pumpkin PieMy favorite holiday time of year is Thanksgiving.  It was Mom’s as well. “It’s all about the food,” Aunt Kathy pointedly told my mom with a grin, as they discussed an upcoming trip and Mom plotted their vacation by the restaurants they would dine in along the way.  Lella Mai (mom) certainly enjoyed good food, cooking and loving people with her creations from the kitchen.  My cousins loved Aunt Mai’s sweet tea, potato salad, corn bread dressing and chocolate confections.  From her “doctored up” Mississippi Mud Cake to her truffles and other deliciousness, desserts were top of mind.  Her first love, pound cake, was a constant entertainment as she tried many recipes.  I have found the same enjoyment in my own kitchen, especially creating new recipes, or tweaking others’ recipes to make them my own.

Mom was not one of those who kept secrets about her ingredients.  She would share recipes readily and was honored when people asked her for one.  She definitely had command of the kitchen.  Of course, everything else was under her leadership as well, but that’s another story.

The following salad is a recent discovery, and its simplicity makes it an easy addition to any meal.  Mom probably would not have liked this one because she never tasted arugula, to my knowledge, and she became fairly picky.  I can see her “would be” reaction to it now, a crinkled up nose in disapproval of the strong flavor.  It makes me laugh.  I do miss her.  She could make some awful faces.

This recipe serves 16-20 as an accompaniment and leftovers the next day are delicious.  Lemon is the standout and makes for a nice break on the palate between the savory goodness of turkey and dressing and that sweet potato casserole with the brown sugared crunchy topping.

Lemon Arugula Salad

  • 3 containers of arugula, organic if you can get it
  • 6 ounces thin sliced prosciutto di Parma, torn into small pieces
  • ½ cup of large shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano (use a large bit grater)


  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/3 to ½ cup of good olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Mix the liquids and pour over the salad.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss well and serve.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Gathering family, cooking, eating, laughing and of course, expressing thanks, are all on the plan.  A nice walk in the woods, breathing in the crisp, cool air and walking off some of that deliciousness will be on the plan as well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

About Renee Bates

Renee is the executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, a member based organization. In addition to growing private support for the trails and green spaces, she enjoys oil painting, hiking, nature and working in the garden. Renee is married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!


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