A Very Dickens Thanksgiving
Fall is now in full swing. The leaves are a gorgeous array of coppers and browns. Most importantly, you all have a funeral for a turkey to plan. I think that's the theme this year... Anywho, it is almost here - Thanksgiving. The day which kicks off the jingling hysteria that quickly spirals us all from one year into the next. Buckle up. Before you know it, the blur will have blown through and plopped us smack in the middle of February, wondering where the time went.
In our mind's eye, we all picture a festive and gluttonous affair. Everything we hope to eat and everyone we hope to share a laugh with will be there. It is a standard crammed down our gullets by Hallmark and cohorts; and hardly consistently true anymore. I wonder how much travel people will even be able to do this year to gather with friends and relatives.
Thanksgiving traditions bring to mind images of mid 20th century rural life at grandma and grandpa's with a kid's table in the next room. Then the day arrives, and your sister can't have gluten anymore and the nephew has a milk allergy. Your son's new hippie girlfriend has him on the vegetarian intermittent fasting plan, and none of the kids will eat anything that might have a vegetable in it. Luckily, you've spent weeks planning and cleaning and preparing and baking. As I talk with friends, it seems to be getting increasingly difficult for families to have meals together. Several reasons are cited but one commonly mentioned is the major differences in diets.
In this, or any scenario; you are one of three parties. The one who feels they have done all the work, the one who feels like their preferences aren't being considered, and the one who just wants peace and quiet at any cost. Taking just a minute to consider the perspective of the others, could bring about an understanding that makes a group holiday meal something to look forward to.
A Tale of Two Viewpoints Mom, or grandma, is usually the most heart invested. They remember how their mothers and grandmothers made home cooked banquets for hungry and grateful broods. It was her work and her love that brought families together, and it was her carefully crafted food that everyone raved about and was grateful to get to be eating. It all provided a nurturing safety about the whole day. A reset of hope for the future and things to come.
We have entered into a new time where many people are much more aware of what they are eating. Mothers have self educated on the interference of chemical companies with our food supply. We know now that organics are better and too much refined sugar causes a wave of preventable issues. How do we honor the work of our mothers and make them feel the love that we most assuredly have for them; while at the same time avoiding ingredients that cause us legitimate concern? A lot of families choose the passive aggressive, smiling, bitter comment route. It's rock solid and familiar. Everyone parts with righteous indignation and mom does the dishes over a sink full of her sudsy tears. Then at the next holiday gathering we all pretend it didn't go that way. Or, we could accommodate our expanding consciousness and our desire for family unity by making real attempts at better communication. I know talking to people sounds laborious and uncomfortable. They'll probably just misunderstand and there might be rapid heart beats and breathy defensiveness. Yikes. Happy Thanksgiving indeed. If you are the guest with special dietary needs, consider the following. Your diet probably isn't the only area you are conscientious about. You already exercise, hydrate, avoid toxins and follow a natural path. Moments like these are what all your healthy preparation is for. A couple of bites of something that might not ordinarily make the cut could be totally worth it. Obviously if it is an issue of allergy or a personal moral code you can not violate, don't take a bite just to appease others. What I am saying is, it is a really good day to give yourself a little more permission and grace. Maybe it isn't the day to be counting macros or grilling your Aunt Meg over what's in the mystery casserole. Digesting healthy food under stress is no better for you than digesting junk food with a happy heart. Thanksgiving is a good day to try something new or revisit something old and be gracious either way.
If you are the host, and have been planning and preparing for the group consider this. While your food is appreciated, people are coming to your house to honor the foundational importance you have had for the whole clan. Understand that food choices that are different to your own, are not a judgement cast against your preferences. It really has nothing to do with you; but rather stems from their desire to do what is best for themselves and their family. Much the same as you did for them and taught them to emulate. Be proud of that. In practical planning, ask the gluten free person to bring two side dishes and the keto kid to bring a tray. The vegans will happily show up with an offering. Your relatives with diet particulars know their ways are not the standard. They are used to having to plan and improvise. Asking them to bring a dish not only satisfies their dietary needs for the event, but also makes them feel like you want to include them and care about their choices. Bonus, they help you with the work and perhaps you get to try something new and delicious.
Olive or Fist? Be aware of what your emotional attachment is to Thanksgiving. Are you more committed to a generational recipe than you are to the people for whom you prepare it? Are you starting the day expecting to be disappointed by the behaviors of others? As the day approaches, we should prepare our hearts by reminding ourselves regularly what our intention is for next Thursday. The truth is, most are grateful there will be a warm dry building somewhere in which they are welcome. There will be people who care about your life and there will be something to eat. It is unlikely, unless by choice, that you will have to spend the day hungry or alone. Perspective.
Whatever your own role is in the affair, approach the day with a clear intention to have joy and harmony. Don't waste any minutes being offended or angry on this day or there will be a year of regret between it and the next attempt. Come to the table with an eager tummy, a grateful heart, a gentle tongue and a willing ear. Be thankful for all you have and for all that is still on its way to you. We're so very thankful for you, - Roots to Remedies 💚