Turkey, rolls, stuffing, cranberries, rolls, green-bean casserole, rolls, pie. The table is practically bending in the middle with the weight of all the food that has been placed on it. And by the end of the meal, you will be uncomfortably stuffed from all this wonderful deliciousness. And it’s tradition. And it’s community. And it’s expected. And it’s amazing food. And it’s communion with friends and family.
Can someone explain to me how a day that has come to represent over-indulgence, a day that precedes a whole season of over-indulgence, be called “Thanksgiving”? If we are truly thankful, we wouldn’t be focused on ourselves, would we? We wouldn’t be stuffing ourselves with food, than rushing off to get the best gadgets that same evening and following day. Nothing about that sounds very Thankful to me.
Thanksgiving means we recognize that we are given so much more than we are worthy of. Thanksgiving means remembering where our health, our food, our relationships, our houses and all the stuff in them, where all that comes from. Thanksgiving should be a gathering of family and friends to, as a community, give thanks to God for what He’s done.
But I don’t see that really happening in our culture. Sure – in pockets – little glimpses here and there – but not over all.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrations. And yes, it is good to sit down with friends and family and eat together. There is something spiritual and holy about it – or should be. But if the meal wasn’t about us, but about giving thanks to God for what He has done throughout the year (because that was the original point hundreds of years ago) than shouldn’t it look different?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just grumpy this morning. But then, that scene from Catching Fire keeps circling around my mind. (No spoilers if you haven’t seen it. Promise. ) There is a scene where Peeta and Katniss are at the Palace, in the celebration of the culmination of their victory tour – they are eating, and stuffed. When they mention this, one of their stylists hands Peeta a glass of pink liquid (I’m sure it’s named in the books, but I don’t remember), which, apparently, allows you to throw up so that you can go eat more. Peeta politely refuses the drink, and whispers to Katniss, “People are starving back home, but here, they’re throwing up food”. Or something like that.
And I wonder. We’re thankful, and eating too much, but out there, beyond where you can see them, people are starving. Literally. In The United States of America, kids are starving. In Haiti, in Peru, in South Africa, in Germany, in China, in The Philippines, in India – people are literally starving to death. The ache in their bellies is not from eating too much – but from not having enough to eat.
Shouldn’t, in our thankfulness of what God has done for us this year, we somehow remember those who are less fortunate? Shouldn’t our thankfulness lead to action? Shouldn’t we share our bounty – in whatever way we can? Whether that’s donating time and money to a local food bank or homeless shelter, or inviting someone to your meal who doesn’t have anyone else to eat with, or even simply smiling at the bell-ringer outside the grocery store, or forgetting all the doubts you have about how the man at the corner with the sign would spend your money, and giving him a five anyway, but making sure you look in his eyes and tell him “God bless” before handing it over. Wouldn’t that be the grateful thing to do? Or maybe even just being more intentional with how much food we eat, not abusing His graciousness? I don’t know.
This isn’t what I intended to write about, it was a much cheerier subject. This is just what came out. Sorry if it’s a downer. I don’t mean to sound judgmental or anything along those lines. I just… I guess I feel like something about this holiday has gone horribly wrong, and maybe we should do something about it.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!