Thanksgiving is such a special day for me. I trained for years as a teenager with my mom to master the turkey, gravy, and more. She was more than grateful for the help, since my three younger sisters were still kids, and our holiday feasts often included other families, our table regularly accommodating ten to twenty guests.
By my twenties, I took over the meal and gave my Mom the day to rest. I developed my own turkey recipe, my own magical method for The Best Gravy You’ll Ever Eat, invented pie recipes, new sides and more. For me, cooking is like my writing: Any effort that mines the imagination involves sharing a bit of your heart and soul with others. It’s gratifying, exhausting and always a bit illuminating.
However, as you grow and learn about the world, holidays you blindly embraced as a child get pitted against the acknowledgement of the disparate suffering so many experience throughout the year, but especially in the holiday season.
My family has dipped in and out of poverty at various times throughout our three decades together. We’ve weathered illness, death, economic crashes and unemployment together, and our table hasn’t always been full at the holidays. However, we have had a table. A roof. We did not die of starvation or of cold, and unfortunately, that is a reality that exists today in America for too many in what is supposedly considered a world super-power. It hurts my heart to celebrate a holiday that exhorts thankfulness and gratitude for what you have now, not what may be purchased later, while so many have so much less.
How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
His words couldn’t have come at a better time. Only America will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, and the even more atrocious Black Thursday/Friday that kicks off the gluttonous retail season. In his words, the Pope, and this should be apparent to you regardless of your religious views, expresses the crisis of have and have not holidays.
For so many of us, regardless of our budget and our weekend retail plans, this Thursday will be a day of intense gratitude, love, good cooking, and triptophan-induced naps. But Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a holiday for inward reflections and celebrations alone. It can be a time when our gratitude for what we have increases our mercy for those who have less, and our hearts open to the fullness of what the holidays hold for us: goodwill and hope for all of us.
This year, to that end, I want recommend giving to a great domestic hunger relief charity, like Feeding America. It is one of the nation’s largest and most efficient domestic hunger-relief programs. For every dollar you give, 97% of it goes to fighting hunger and nine meals are procured for those in need. Right now, they’re matching funds for Thanksgiving, so just $10 becomes $20 and that $20 secures 180 meals through Feeding America. There are a lot of great regional programs I’ve given to before: FareStart, Northwest Harvest and more, but whatever charity you look into, check out it’s rating and make sure you’re not donating to an organization that spends your money on marketing rather than its mission (I’m looking at you and your pink shirts, Susan G. Komen Foundation.)
If you can give, please do. Allot some money from your holiday budget, even if that budget is lean this year, and help fight hunger. Our gratitude is always increased when we are painfully aware of those who are in need, but we need to do more than be aware. Gratitude without acts of selflessness can quickly turn to greed. We need to help, in any way we can. During the holidays, when we give we take full advantage of what the holidays can be: a time of gratitude and grace; of reflection which inspires action.
Had to read it twice when Sarah first sent me the information: $1.00 FEEDS 10 PEOPLE!! It’s a great charity and I hope a lot of people will give this year.
Dear Weather App,
Please put snow back into the forecast. I don’t appreciate hope being ripped from my heart.
When we talk as though a person or people are a thing, the third form of a noun other than a person or place, that is where racist, sexist and weightist language and thought exist.
One thing I truly love about the NFL is how it forces players and coaches, GM’s and owners to face adversity, unlike any other sport, head on and head first. Physically and mentally.
Today, listening to Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson relating to Icognito’s suspension as though they don’t know how to talk to “them” is racism in its most subtle form. Whether we’re taking about race, gender, weight, if we’re generalizing and speaking in the third noun, you’re not speaking about the issue, you are the issue. But, kudos to those two for trying. It’s a big stage and a sensitive subject our country needs to figure out how to talk about.
We have to LEARN how to talk about racism if you’re white, sexism if you’re male, weightism if you’re skinny and be humble about being corrected. Otherwise, we are the problem.