Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, we're back to the healthy eating and exercise routine. While reflecting on the Thanksgiving meal, I decided not to gripe about what and how much I might eat, but instead to think about the food as a metaphor for the relationships I crave, particularly at this time of year. Time for this foodie to see the turkey and trimmings in a new way.
The turkey. This is the meat of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. It’s a wonderful food, full of protein, providing me with the strength and nourishment to fuel my muscles for strength and good health. It’s the star of the show on this holiday, and I find it interesting that of all the foods we usually prepare, it’s the simplest. Rinse off, sprinkle a little oil, salt and pepper, and roast. The turkey reminds me of the strongest relationships in my life. My husband, close friends, family. Certain of the people in my life are the ones who are the true fuel for my strength and good health. I know that if I don’t spend the time I need with these protein sources, I get drained more easily and life’s circumstances affect me more than it should. These meaty relationships are simple, but require time.
The stuffing. It’s the flavorful, fun, fill-in stuff. With all its varieties, the stuffing can enhance the turkey with its spiciness. However, the stuffing can also absorb the juices from my primary protein source if I simply stuff too much. Like the big bowl of bread chunks that seems bottomless, I find it interesting that I can stuff way too much into a little space. Volunteerism, guilt, busy-ness, useless traditions. All these and more can provide way too much filling for my good health. It can be tasty and fun, and might fuel me for the short run, but it doesn’t give the long-lasting energy I need to sustain myself.
The cranberry sauce. This sweet enhancement to the Thanksgiving meal is exactly what makes everything else taste a little better. I love to have a bit of sauce with the turkey, with the stuffing, with whatever else ends up on my plate. It’s like my sweet relationships that lack the obligatory side effects of time and attention. They include old high school friends, new friends, temporary acquaintances—all of who add just what I need to enjoy the meat of my life a bit more.
Green. Bean. Casserole. This is an attempt at healthy living gone bad. I’m okay with the green, and even with the green bean, but when it becomes casserole, it becomes a dish I avoid. The healthiness has been masked in creaminess and crunchiness, like the healthy relationships in my life that seem simple but get masked in obligation and need redefining or skipping altogether. There have been seasons in my own life when I held onto a relationship just a bit too long that it became this unsavory side dish, and I have had to make this decision to either change it or skip it to maintain my own health.
The salad, asparagus, or brussel sprouts. There is usually one side dish that retains its simple, healthy state on the Thanksgiving table. The crunchiness and deep green colors of these foods can provide the vitamins and fiber that help us to enjoy the rest of the meal in moderation. I find it interesting that I usually skip eating these foods on Thanksgiving, even if they are on the table. There’s no room left for healthiness on a day devoted to indulgence. There’s a problem, however, when the sense of abundance makes me skip the simplicity of this day which is all about giving thanks. I want to remember not to skip giving thanks on this day, or any day, even if I skip the green stuff.
The pies. The pies epitomize indulgence and sweetness in all its forms: apple, pumpkin, lemon, cherry. The aspect of the pies I appreciate most is the sweetness of the family traditions tied to them. The passing on of the recipes and techniques for pie baking is in itself enough for dessert. I love the traditions and heritage passed on from generation to generation through these desserts. It’s a great finishing touch to a day devoted to thankfulness. This sweet gratitude is the treat for all of our days, not just the holiday season.
I’m full now, how about you? Be blessed this holiday season with the relationships you crave.