The other night my dad called. He wanted to talk to Jonathon about something, but he also wanted us to know we needed to think of something to be thankful for. We were going to talk about it over Thanksgiving dinner.
Lest you think this is sort of contrived, it’s nothing new. We usually do this at Thanksgiving. It seems to give the meal, a remembrance of the Pilgrims’ feast hundreds of years ago, a bit more weight. Jonathon told me he’s thankful he has a job. And I immediately said, “I’m thankful I *don’t* have a job.”
It’s true. Since Harmony Hill let me go, I don’t work. Sure, my shelter job is still stewing. But last I heard, the funding might get pushed to 2014. So, nothing it’s in stasis, like a bug trapped in amber, right now. Maybe in another couple of months we’ll have a meeting and talk about progress, or the lack thereof. Someday, those buildings will get built. I hope to be a part of the process.
As of today, I have no regular, paying job. And I’m truly okay with that. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m writing that. I have enjoyed working and being a part of something bigger than myself. But right now, I’m enjoying being home. I’m liking cooking and doing things for my husband and kids. I never thought I would be here, not wanting to have a job, something outside the house to occupy my mind and hands. Yet, I am. And I’m grateful I get to experience it. It only took 20 years for me to become domesticated! It’s some kind of record.
As I headed out for my own personal Turkey Trot this morning, I encountered at least 6 others doing the same. We smiled and greeted each other, braving the near-freezing temperatures infused with the damp of the last several days’ worth of rain. All I could think was: pie. I am the designated pie maker in our family.
I started thinking about other food, too. Actually, I started thinking about it last night. As I cook things, I’m enjoying the cooking more than the eating, which is probably why I’m not 200 lbs. I get a great kick out of my family and friends noshing something I made. Jonathon says he can tell the mood I was in when I created it when he eats it, which can be good or bad, I suppose. It’s like edible art. And desserts are my favorite. Probably because desserts are fun on a plate. Nobody ever eats dessert and says, “I’m stocking up on Vitamin C!” or any such tripe. You eat it because it’s delicious or beautiful or crunchy or chocolatey, or all of those.
I postulate that food has a fourth dimension. When you share a meal with someone, you are convivial. You are hospitable. You are extending a welcome, back and forth, as you break bread together. You make yourself vulnerable and open, sitting at a table together, eating from the same serving dish. How many times did the New Testament record Jesus eating with people? Didn’t he perform his first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana? He turned water into wine. He cared about the details, like keeping the guests happy. And the Scriptures say it wasn’t just “Two-buck Chuck” wine. It was the good stuff. Not that I know anything about that, but I can read. And one of Jesus’ first appearances post-resurrection was to his disciples. He called them in from fishing. He ate grilled fish and broke bread with them, yet again. Until He broke the bread, they didn’t recognize him. Then something in His mannerisms or expression revealed who He was. It was as if He was saying, “Don’t forsake sharing meals with each other. This is part of the essence of being human. I have sanctified it.”
So shouldn’t our gatherings be like that? Thanksgiving, in particular, strikes me as that type of meal. Squanto and other tribal members who spoke English and helped the British settlers make their way in the New World shared their knowledge of agriculture and hunting. To show their appreciation, the settlers invited the Native Americans to participate in the first Thanksgiving. And, I’ve heard, 50 years of peace between the white people and the Native Americans ensued. I’ve been thinking that being thankful costs us nothing except our bad attitudes and grudges. We must give up our complaining and arguing, our nitpicking and fault-finding and perfectionism. Living a grateful lifestyle means contentment and joy. Seems a great tradeoff, doesn’t it? May our Thanksgivings reap peace in the lives of those we touch as we join hearts around the table today.