Image from memeblender.com.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”–Thornton Wilder
In three days, President Obama will issue a presidential pardon to two Minnesotan turkeys who will then live out the rest of their days at Mount Vernon, safe from grandma’s looming oven. For those of you, like me, who were unaware of this practice-no, I am not making this up. I don’t know where I’ve been that I didn’t know this actually occurred each year-and became national news– but it really leaves me wondering what on Earth people from other countries must think of us. It also makes me wonder how, exactly, those two turkeys were picked out of the 45 million or so that will be eaten on Thanksgiving Day. Were their names drawn out of a pilgrim hat? Can you imagine being that turkey running late to your turkey meeting that fateful day? “Ok, Randy! Randy will be pardoned this year. Congratulations to Randy!“ “Oh, Randy isn’t here? Well, uhhh…ok, Victor! Congratulations, Victor!”
And, of course, this Thursday, most people in the country will be over-stuffing themselves with unpardoned birds, along with a dozen varieties of starches and sweets, all while watching a televised balloon parade and demonstrating their gratitude by descending on the local Walmart for its Thanksgiving night sales. Because, well, one can’t be expected to wait a whole day for that 40” decorative Santa for $15. ‘Tis the season, after all.
I don’t know…it seems a little like the notion of “thanks” has been lost from the holiday. And on a level, I do get it. I, myself, have had a very disappointing month on both the personal and professional fronts. And sometimes, even the best-intentioned of us find it challenging to be thankful when we’re trying to climb Mt. Suck. But I believe that there is more to this holiday than silly photo ops or pre-Black Friday sales. I realize that, no matter what I may wish to have, I’ve already got more than I should ever want. And I also know—really know—that no matter how much misfortune I may be experiencing at any given moment, it could always be worse. And for many, it really is.
So, I dusted off my current state of funk long enough to search within and find those things I’m truly grateful for.
I am thankful for pecan pie.
And sausage stuffing, and corn soufflé and mashed potatoes with gravy….
As a recently-turned pseudo Paleo who’s also been reading about MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial everything, gluten, GMOs and a host of other crazy shit the FDA has deemed “generally safe” for human consumption, my whole culinary world has been turned upside-down. If even half of what I’m reading is true, it scares the bejesus out of me.
But, as good food has always been one of the greatest, purest pleasures of my life, I simply can’t give up everything that has, to this point, given me more joy than most of the boys I’ve dated. And I’m fairly certain that Little Man would go outer limits, batshit crazy if I were to tell him he’d had his last pack of M&Ms until the end of time. So, we’ve made a deal, the two of us, to eat a diet that consists of 75% strictly healthy, nutrient-packed foods devoid of all the aforementioned “generally not deadly” ingredients, and 25% “whatever the hell we feel like eating,” so long as it’s not McDonald’s or straight-out arsenic. Or McDonald’s.
So, on this blessed upcoming Thursday, I give thanks for a whole day where I am free to forget the dangers of hormone-enhanced, breast-implanted mutant turkeys. A day where I can pretend not to know that the MSG in my sausage stuffing might disrupt my otherwise normal neurological functions and cause me to spontaneously sing “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” until everyone around me vomits up their artificially-flavored pumpkin pie. A day where I can ignore the fact that my Monsanto-enriched corn soufflé might just cause me to grow a foot out of my ear canal.
I am grateful for this one day where I am free to overlook my 75% commitment and focus on the other wonderful gifts in my life. Like the fact that, for the first time since I was 13, the Thanksgiving Day table will be free of that culinary abomination…green bean casserole. And that on this single day, drinking the gravy directly from the gravy boat doesn’t earn me “side eye.” And the gift of family and friends who don’t judge me for eating the whole pecan pie during the season premiere of It’s a Wonderful Life.
And speaking of It’s a Wonderful Life, when I really take a moment to reflect, I feel pretty lucky. My life is not a fairy tale, and some days I spend more time mumbling expletives than giving thanks. But I have a job and a home and wicked cooking skills. And, artificial colors or not, I am fortunate to have ample food on my table. I also have some wonderful people in my life. People who teach me, who balance me, who love me and who remind me that laughter is always an option. People who make me a better person. I am thankful for each of them. Of course, there’s also Little Man, who has a knack for making most days pretty awesome…even the ones that don’t seem all that promising. I’m mostly grateful for him.
So, as you sit down Thursday at a table filled with holiday yumminess and High Fructose Corn Syrup, I hope it is also filled with laughter and love and hope. May each of you have someone or something that fills you, every day, with thanks. Happy Thanksgiving! © Racheal Lee Bradford