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Appreciating Thanksgiving

Note: This is a piece I originally wrote for a church service on Appreciating Everyday Miracles.

I haven’t always appreciated Thanksgiving. In fact, during the years when my body-mass index was far higher than recommended, I positively hated it. The societal encouragement to indulge in gluttony was like torture because I knew it was only for other people; anyone my size should deprive themselves as much as possible, as we were supposed to do every day. It emphasized all the issues I faced with food and made the holiday full of guilt and shame and very little in the way of enjoyment.

Only in more recent years have I been able to truly understand and embrace Thanksgiving. Not so much the story of the Pilgrims, but the simpler and older tale of the wonder of food itself. Only now do I appreciate the fundamental and miraculous ability of a tiny seed to grow into something that will nourish other life.

Letting myself truly imagine this, I can now approach the holiday with a deeply humble spirit. Surveying the feast spread out each year, I am no longer conflicted about whether or not I should partake of it. Instead, I simply appreciate the bounty and everything that went into creating it, and I eat as much as I need and want, savoring each bite. Creaminess of mashed potatoes, tartness underlying the cranberry sauce, bursting kernels of corn, juicy bites of turkey, warm golden-brown rolls spread with butter that melts into every nook and cranny, savory-turned-sweet pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream.

Even better, this has also freed me to delight in the companionship of my family and friends. Sharing that meal, and all the others I eat throughout the year, I am no longer separate and ashamed. Instead, I can embrace the holiday wholeheartedly. And that truly feels like a miracle.

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