I didn’t expect Thanksgiving to be as difficult as it was.
Not the cooking; that went off with nary a hitch. Nor the guests; they were lively, friendly, and quite pleasant. The family was fine, the power stayed on, and the weather was decent too.
What, you ask, was the trouble then?
Only all the implications.
First of all, How are we to celebrate abundance? Is is even ethical to do so, considering how many have so little? Isn’t it a bit like gloating? My faith tradition (I grew up in the Catholic Church, and am now an Episcopalian) teaches that meekness and humility are virtues, and craving the things of this world contradicts the message of the Gospel. Yet both Rome and Canterbury possess great wealth; how does one reconcile these opposites?
One way may be to hold one’s wealth loosely, willingly giving it up for those less fortunate; another might be to forswear wealth altogether. Both have precedent in tradition and practice, from Zacchaeus to Francis of Assisi to Bill Gates. Though judging from recent events connected to the #Occupy movement, (unless that’s not what happened), many of the wealthy are loath to give even a small fraction of what they have in order to make a better world.
Another approach might reside in using those virtues of meekness and humility, with an added portion of gratitude. Surely there is nothing wrong with sharing one’s joy with friends, or even strangers, as long as one isn’t wasteful or showy about it. Author and chef Tamar Adler makes the point eloquently in her essay “Thanksgiving Thrift – The Holiday as a Model for Sustainable Cooking” in the New York Times. As it turns out, I’ve been following that path for some time now: saving odd bits for other dishes; recycling leftovers into new meals (remember the oatmeal pancakes?); and otherwise living by the “waste not, want not” code. So yeah, we’ve got that part. We had a great time with our friends, and I’ve got a slew of leftovers to mix and match for days’ worth of meals. So far, so good. What else could trouble me on such a fine day?
I’ll get into that next time. There’s much to discuss.