Thanksgiving Retreats and Meditations at Hudson Valley Monasteries

These yams are truly divine: For those who want to break away from the feasting, the frenzy, and the football, two local monasteries offer mindful meditation sessions

Many people choose Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday because it is loud, chaotic, family-centered, and more worshipful of football than faith. For those who simply hate the holiday for those very same reasons, try a spiritual Thanksgiving retreat.

The Holy Cross Monastery in West Park allows you to give thanks in the serene and peaceful setting of 20 acres of Hudson River-side beauty. Though the monastery is affiliated with the Episcopal Church, people of all faiths are welcome to attend, and in fact, people of many denominations have done so in the past. The retreat begins on Tuesday, November 26 and lasts until Friday, November 29; guests can attend any or all of those days. Book one of 42 rooms in the guest house. The Ritz this is not: Expect a bed, a chair, a lamp, and a shared bathroom. There are church services for those so inclined; you also can mingle with others in the community room or wander the grounds in reflective meditation. For dinner, Chef Virgil Ballew, Jr. prepares traditional foods using local and seasonal ingredients.

Only overnight guests can share in the feast, says Lori Callaway, guest house manager. A donation of $80 per day is requested for the room and the meal. Others are invited to share in the glory of nature and the religious services during the day — a great way to get away from your obnoxious cousins (845-384-6660, ext. 3002).

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Another place for mindful celebration is (where else) on Mindfulness Road in Pine Bush. Blue Cliff Monastery, sited on 80 acres of woodland in the Shawangunk Mountains, is home to a community of Buddhist monks and nuns who celebrate Thanksgiving with a four-day retreat. Guests can join them from November 28 to the December 1 for a long weekend of peaceful meditation to truly give thanks.

Just like dinner at Aunt Shirley’s — not (845-733-4959, ext. 21 or


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