Why My Family Takes a Thanksgiving Vow of Silence


For many years, my family took a vow of silence over Thanksgiving, retreating to a Catholic seminary perched on a small lake in Libertyville, Illinois. The rules of the Thanksgiving Silent Retreat were simple: no talking, no reading, no watching TV or listening to music. We were allowed to draw, or write, or play the grand piano in the pink-carpeted seminary lounge, but were not to bring books or use our laptops or phones. […]

Consider the Thanksgiving table, groaning under the weight of abundance: jeweled cranberries winking in orange-spiced syrups; the skin of the turkey rubbed and brined and roasted to crispy perfection; mounds of potatoes fluffed into chive-flecked clouds; green beans and stuffing and marshmallow-topped yams. Circling these dishes, the yawning promise of empty plates, and yet—above the whole table floats a cottony haze of silence. No one speaks. No one asks you to pass the salt, to refill the wine. What would that be like? How do you think you might feel and exist in that silent, still place?

Click here for the punch line and the entire story: Why My Family Takes a Thanksgiving Vow of Silence by Nina Li Coomes.


  1. She painted a beautiful canvas with her words. As a veteran of several silent retreats, I really understood her at a personal level.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think I would like the silence and the retreat from the hectic pace of life — for a while. I could do without the electronic gadgets for sure, but not having a book to read would be torture. As for not talking or having to listen to someone else talking — that would be lovely — for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can think of other times that are more appropriate for silence and introspection. But if your family members give up their time to travel home to be with you, why would you curb communication opportunities with them?

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  4. They say that only people with healthy bonds among each other can sit in silence for extended periods of time. One can’t get enough silence. But not giving up books, nope.

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  5. “Stillness, proximal to holiness.” What a beautiful thought. We live in a world of constant bombardment of news and information, multi tasking. The idea of spending time in silence with my family, away from social holiday pressures, very appealing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. i think this is why i love the early morning, for its stillness, the busy-ness of the day has yet to begin. not sure if my family could pull it off, but i do enjoy sitting in silence with those i’m close to, there is a certain measure of peace and and real presence in that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful idea! But in a way, I feel like so many families are communicating in silence already, because of technology. The silence is present for the wrong reasons. I hope your family had a wonderful thanksgiving Mr K 🙏🏻😉

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  8. She describes it beautifully. Yet why make it just Thanksgiving … having a silent meal makes us appreciate what we are eating and the company around the table. If you get to Kripalu for some Relaxation and Retreat Dave, the breakfasts are always silent.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah…I miss those silent retreats. Vancouver closed its last retreat House decade ago. We can actually taste the food in silence and be filled with gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I came from a very vocal family. Having silence at the dinner table would be like being tied to their chair ! That being said, I’d love to try it some time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I read Nina Coomes beautiful piece in eternity…she has an amazing gift of insight and the ability to express that…great experience to read about her families experience…I gained much…

    Liked by 1 person

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