Many of us who live in the United States are spending this long weekend with family members, relatives, and friends. It is one of the busiest holidays where people are traveling – driving and flying – rushing to be with the family, on time. A majority of those gatherings may be spent sitting around the dining table.  Food takes center stage, and if we’re not mindful it can occupy the waist and hips till long after the new year.

In recent years, I have heard friends express their feelings about how much holiday gathering, such as Thanksgiving and the like, has lost its true soul and meaning. Tension has been created around the commotion of preparing food, dressing up the lawn, the house, and the dining table. Tension is also high especially because of what America has to go through this next one year. Gatherers are reminded to respond calmly and behave nicely around family members who may not share the same opinion.  It doesn’t help when marketers and salespeople are competing for our attention, which makes our window of attention grow narrower. It is an unnecessary nuisance, yet we are dragged into it without realizing it.

For someone who has married into this Thanksgiving tradition, I was reminded by my grandmother’s wisdom related to food, as I was driving to the grocery store yesterday. Grandma was a strong-will petite woman who was full of life’s wisdom. My maternal grandparents (who helped raised my brother and I after our mom passed away) didn’t have religion but were rooted in life’s philosophies.  They sent their eight children to a Catholic school ran by Dutch missionaries. Each Sunday, they gathered the family for brunch, and we prayed before meal – the Christian way.  But I remember what grandma said one day, at the table, after we prayed, “Now thank the food that’s about to enter your body. This is the food that will nourish you, bring joy and energy into your life. Thank the food,” she said. Food, grandma said, comes from ingredients that offer themselves to me. They “sacrificed” their lives so I can be nourished, learn, work, do things, and live my life to the fullest (pun intended).  I didn’t really grasp what she meant until I was much older. Thanking God the Provider, the hands that prepare the food, and remembering those who are not fortunate enough to enjoy what we have is absolutely important. But thanking the food that’s about to enter my body?

Grandma’s wisdom reemerged during a transition in my life when I wasn’t happy with how I felt in my body. Food was the source of blame and complaint; what I ate didn’t seem to create what I wanted to feel. I went through this tug-of-war with food until I realized that my relationship with food was reflective of the things that occurred off my plate.  I treated food without gratitude, I stuffed it into my body because it was time to eat. I was full but was hardly fulfilled.  How often do we do this to ourselves?  Eat while driving, watching TV, working on projects, rushing from one appointment to another. Sometimes even skipping a meal or two and then stuffing ourselves out of hunger.

This holiday season, we are going to face food in the eye, a lot. Let’s remind ourselves to be grateful for what we have; bountiful or otherwise. Food has energy, it can be sad, too, when wasted or treated without joy. Let’s be mindful and thankful — what we gain from it will unlock the delights and fullness of life.  Sending Thanksgiving Peace to you and yours.

#thanksgiving #foodgratitude #foodwisdom #livingyourinspiredlife #ingemaskun