Most mornings, about 5:00 am, I have a couple eggs for breakfast by candle-light. It is a simple ritual after an hour of sitting-practice. Comforting. Nutritious, though I often follow it later in the morning with a green-juice chaser on the way out the door. Salads bore me so I drink mine to get that checked off the to-do list.
Thanksgiving is around the corner and I am wondering about it a bit. What does the rest of the planet think of American Thanksgiving? Is it somehow unpatriotic to ask that question? So much food. So physically uncomfortable after the meal… guts bulging…antacid tablets popping…blood-sugars spiking…conversation with family being hijacked by a deep desire to sleep…television…advertising for Christmas purchases…hmm.
The three friends coming to New Mexico to celebrate Thanksgiving with me on this farm will be cascading visits before and after Thanksgiving Day. We will eat and drink, but not to excess I hope. My hope is that we look deep into each other’s eyes and tell each other how much we love our friendship. I hope we eat a simple breakfast – eggs and some crackers or toast (40 cents each…the silver egg cup notwithstanding…) A simple soup for lunch – last night’s acorn squash refitted for soup with cinnamon and cloves and a bit of heavy cream and a salad ($1 each). A simple dinner of fried eggplant and mozzarella with simmered tomatoes ($2 each). One glass of wine.
I am not arguing for puritanism. I am arguing for simplicity so that on this planet, on which we are stranded with a billion starving humans, we might give thanks for relationships and not just for ginormous amounts of food. It is true. I am a white male. I won the gene-pool-lottery, inherited some pretty things, and I am trying hard to rectify that by the work I do and the choices I make. I often fail. But really, might “Thanksgiving” be less about a massive meal (which makes us all feel so uncomfortable afterwards) and more about thanks for friends and family?
I keep wondering is the table of guests at the Thanksgiving meal might stop eating for 30 minutes right in the middle of the meal, by design …between the opening soup and the turkey perhaps… and speak out loud to each other how much they mean to each other. What if thanksgiving were more about words and less about food? Even people we have just met moments ago can be celebrated. “I give thanks for Sarah. I only just met her today for this Thanksgiving Meal, but I give thanks for the way she smiles at people when she speaks to them.” Even sullen teenagers can offer thanks for the way a parent believed them last week. Even sparing brothers and sisters can give thanks for one small kindness of the other. Parents whose marriage is on the rocks can still speak thanks for the good times until they roll back around.
Perhaps this year we do not speak of religion or politics. They can be so disappointing, after all. Perhaps we speak of the joy others bring to our lives. And perhaps we intentionally scale down Thanksgiving meals to observe the reality of a planet in which 3,000 children die every day because of the system of inequality and greed in which we each participate. A buzz-kill perhaps. But might we follow our pious prayers with practices in perspective?