In reading Thanksgiving posts from my friends today I have seen a common devotion to eating and drinking. There is nothing wrong or blameworthy in this. After all, anyone who knows me personally knows my commitment to eating reasonably large amounts of food whenever possible. I’m not a glutton, but I have a pretty healthy appetite. From the looks of it, plenty of other people enjoyed lots of eating and drinking as well, and some of them even joked about having food comas, something I have been fortunate enough to avoid in my life. Nonetheless, the subject of food comas reminds me of some of my more notable Thanksgiving experiences.
This year was a tasty thanksgiving feast, but it was definitely one of my more low-key Thanksgiving days. It reminded me a lot like last year’s Thanksgiving, which was spent in a strange land and was rather small , only it was a lot less alien of surroundings this year, even if it was similarly distant from my kinfolk. There have been quite a few low key Thanksgivings in my life, though I must admit that the majority of mine have been with someone’s family (if not always my own!). Like most people, I tend to relate Thanksgiving to family and food, as well as gratitude, and I do my best to keep the reason for the day in mind as I celebrate it, and not merely use it as an excuse for gluttony and excess.
One of the Thanksgiving days I remember was a day of particular frustrating. As a fourth grader I got my retainer two days before Thanksgiving (not very good timing, I know) and as a result I was unable to eat any solid food for several days, including Thanksgiving. That particular festival, my family went to a nearby house in Plant City for a large spread with two or three dozen people (it was quite the shindig) and I could only eat food that was fit for the elder with dentures–sweat potatoes were okay but I couldn’t even eat the crust on the pumpkin pie. It is hard to imagine a more depressing Thanksgiving experience than being surrounded with table after table of yummy food but not being able to chew any of it.
Envy is an understandable thing to me, even if it’s a feeling I do my best not to gratify. It was therefore gratifying for me to see the video feed from one of my alma maters for their service to the needy of Los Angeles during the Thanksgiving festival. It is always a good thing when people who are definitely privileged turn their gifts into service of those who are without. One of the best ways of reducing envy is for people to serve instead of showing selfishness with their possessions. It is a tricky balance when it comes to justice, both the justice in receiving the reward that is due for one’s labor while at the same time making sure to be generous with others, and showing gratitude to God for the His own gifts and generosity. How to work that balance is a matter where all of us can use some work.
This year I had the chance to enjoy some wonderful turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and a quarter of a pumpkin pie, washed down with a couple of root beers. It was not the most I have ever had for Thanksgiving, nor the least. I avoided a food coma and ate moderately and responsibly, and I hope everyone else I know (and all of the strangers I do not know) have similarly been able to enjoy good food and good company and avoid excess. After all, Thanksgiving is a day about gratitude and not a day about gluttony. Hopefully we can all take advantage of the opportunity this weekend offers and show some appreciation of what we have been given. We all have a lot to be thankful for, after all.