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Lessons from our Ancestors this Holiday

by Campowerment Crew
 ∙ Nov 22 ∙ 7 Min Read

By: Tammi Leader, Founder: Campowerment

I want to start my story-telling with a quick acknowledgement that today I speak my truth to your inbox not because you need to hear from me, but because I want you to know that we at Campowerment are still here – to offer companionship on your journey through a very difficult world that demands the best of each us, to heal some of its deep wounds. 

Today, I’m sharing what’s brewing for me, which I hope can offer some perspective to you and whomever you break bread with tomorrow. Here goes…

Us x Our Ancestors: A Rescheduled Holiday

Us Leaders – my family – celebrated our holiday last week, in the South Florida home where my parents both lived and died – the safe, comfortable space where family legacy and love lived, so big, for 25 years…and what felt like forever.

For most hours of every day last week, we opened boxes that had been shut for decades, uncovering more than 100 years of photos and mementos that trace all the way up our family tree.

In essence, my sister, her kids, my kids, and I spent our (self-declared) holiday week reconnecting to the people who lived and died to give us, their descendants, a better life than they had. 

With this in mind: the belief that it’s one generation’s responsibility to hand off a better reality to the next – we celebrated our holiday differently, too.

A Break from Tradition

This (early) Thanksgiving, more keenly aware of the inhumanity that accompanies disputes over land ownership, our kids requested we celebrate in line with our beliefs today, “because we don’t have to do it the way others do, or the way we used to.” They removed the pilgrims from our tablescape; they asked us to question the origins of what we celebrate; and they made other small but noticeable tweaks to how we talk about this holiday.

At first, the changes felt really challenging for me, having to prepare myself to say goodbye to this massive and beautiful chapter that took place under my parents’ roof, while “giving up” any part of one of my favorite family traditions. I complied, for the sake of being together, in peace. And then something really interesting happened: 

Picture by picture – clipping by clipping – and story by story that we sifted through and shared, I began to remember: we have been here before, and we are the better for it.​​​​

The Thanksgiving Poem

Since 1910 or so, my mother’s side of the family has been reciting a passed-down poem before Thanksgiving dinner. It’s adorable, but it says a few things that have not withstood the test of (our) time, like:

“I’d rather eat some turkey, than to be one big and fat, and so today with all my heart, I’ll thankful be for that” 

  • Realizing that our poem held shame for any type of body, about 5 years ago, we changed it to:
  • “I’d rather eat some turkey, than to be one, on a dish, and so today with all my heart, I’ll thankful be for this
  • We survived the change. It mattered none. And the poem, honoring what we knew and believed at that time, could continue to be shared proudly.


“I’d rather be a little girl, although ‘tis very true: the things I do not like at all, I’m often made to do”

  • Realizing that our poem didn’t make space for the boys in our family, about 10 years ago, we changed it to:
  • “I’d rather be a little girl or boy, although ‘tis very true…”
  • A few years later, realizing that our poem imposed a gender binary (once we realized there even was a gender binary, after one of my kids came out as trans), we changed it to:
  • “I’d rather be a little kid, although ‘tis very true…”
  • And again, we survived. Twice more, it mattered none. In fact: we laughed about it! And the poem, honoring what we knew and believed at that time, could continue to be shared proudly.

Maybe this all seems silly, but it helps me realize that we can renovate together in order to preserve the home that we share…and our desire to keep sharing.

The Lesson

Over the course of our week, I came to realize that the tradition I have cherished for all these years – what I knew as Thanksgiving, the holiday with the same rituals, in the same way – has stood the test of time not because we held on tight to how it always has been, but because we have been willing to update it – to honor who and how we are now

With that realization, no longer was I bumming, but instead beaming at the lesson that found me: That we could be an updated version that is willing to acknowledge that we are outdated as soon as a new moment comes; and at that point, be willing to update again. 

I think that’s why I founded Campowerment and invited you all here. Because of the subconscious desire to update together, and do it again when a new version of our software begs to be released.

Grateful to Do This With You

And so, on this holiday that I already mostly celebrated, I raise my glass, and Campowerment’s too, to YOU, for whom we are so exceptionally grateful. Namely:

  • 🟠 Our beloved clients who’ve trusted us to produce and hold powerful retreats to connect and empower your groups, teams and people;
  • 🟠 The hundreds of amazing individual women who showed up for themselves, for each other and for a better version of all of us – at camp this fall in the Poconos and online all year within the membership we make meaningful together;

  • 🟠 Those of you have not had the opportunity to participate in those ways, but move with this lil’ movement of folks dreaming up a better way to be who we are called to keep becoming; 
  • 🟠 Those who’ve heard someone out in the world saying something that makes you share that Campowerment could be a place for them to belong; 
  • 🟠 Those who held down the fort while someone you love has taken time for themselves to be at a Campowerment retreat or online with, so that they could come back to you re-ignited; 
  • 🟠 Those who boldly nominated someone extraordinary for a scholarship to camp and those of you who bravely nominated yourself;
  • 🟠 And finally: Those who forward our emails to remind someone else in the world that they are not alone.

The privilege to modify something that has long been one way, in order to honor who we are now – no matter how we’ve done things in the past – TOGETHER. And that’s what I am most grateful for this holiday. Thank you for that.

I hope you can bring some of this spirit, if it calls, to whomever you choose to share tomorrow with. True and deep gratitude, for being here with me and us.

From the campfire & beyond,

P.S. Our family’s poem is HERE, with a PDF download, should you want it 😉

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One of every two campers at Classic Camps has been there before. Why come back? Because every camp is different each time, and, as humans, so are we!