Is It All About Food?
Thanksgiving is an American Celebration that is all about food and we acknowledge it by eating. Sometimes we eat way too much, but none the less it is an occasion about food, gathering and enjoying every bite.
One of the most wonderful moments of appreciation one can show another is to accept their hospitality by sharing food. Clean water and food are on the basic human needs list along with air to breathe and shelter. To accept these gifts is to make a connection.
When my family was expecting company, a great deal of effort went into preparing for the visitor and part of this preparation was food. Our hope was not to serve something our visitor was allergic too or would make them ill, but rather to nourish them and share what we had to offer. It was a special occasion.
At Christmas time (our main holiday celebration in winter) our food offerings were often special treats or sweets like fancy cookies or homemade marshmallows. My Mother was a school teacher so the folks on her staff would each make one kind of treat or cookie in large quantities and they would share and trade to make a more elaborate plate when they were short of time and trying to keep children engaged in learning and still meet their family’s needs and wants.
On Christmas day after church, my relatives would arrive (lots of clergy in our family tree) we would have a specially planned feast which usually had foods that we did not eat any other time of the year. Our feast then became an occasional treat.
My parent favorite treat at Christmas time was the lovely orange they got as a gift. It was fresh and whole and a rich experience. When my parents came to the US, they could afford enough oranges to make fresh squeezed orange juice for our treat before church on Christmas morning.
There were school plays and pageants and usually a visit from Santa with involved a candy cane and our teachers had the homeroom teachers bring cookies and punch on the last day of classes before break – another treat.
Oh and the wassail, hot and cozy after going to the tree farm to cut our decoration centerpiece. A once a year treat.
There was so much magic and mystery and singing and preparation and the treats were part of it, but not really the main focus. Most of the gifts at our house and in my neighborhood were homemade – I always got a new pair of pajamas crafted by my mother’s hands. Three kids and teaching first grade, whenever did she find the time?
And then there was a game and a book and something – one thing – that we had asked Santa for on our list. It just seemed like there were lots of gifts and I got plenty and the visual joy of it came from so many people and family gathered and all those collective gifts placed under the tree.
This was a special occasion to celebrate a spiritual and secular event in our lives and our community.
It was not everyday nourishment. The treats stopped. The fancy desserts, the gourmet cooking, the trying to outperform another, including the competitive glitz and glitter were distinct occasions not year round events – daily occurrences. Special occasions have become mundane and ordinary events which up the ante and make us think more and more and more.
Many do not remember what it was like to feel hungry and what food tastes like. We have let what dazzles our eyes dictate our exercise routines and defined success by if we can control our treat intake and stay healthy or if we continually overindulge to find ourselves.
My family wants food that nourishes and makes good connections. They want food that fuels good conversation and activities and allows them to come together and bring out the magic of stories and events in their lives.
We will have wild blackberry pie and laugh about climbing down the bluff to pick the berries in the heat of the summer, and the cooking smells will excite the tongue to remember the warm berry in August splendor and our worry if we were getting enough for a pie and not eating them all on the spot!
Yes there will be an office party and a dinner or two at a restaurant and we will watch with care what we are consuming. Most of the gifts this year will be shared with families in need and we will put some magic into each stocking at home.
I don’t believe the Winter holiday season is really about the food or the consumption and quantity. I think it is about connection and magic and preparation?
What do you think? How do you celebrate and what is the magic in your season?
Or is it about the food?