Okay, so perhaps this is the obligatory (and late) Thanksgiving post, but maybe there’s a reason it is obligatory—how can you not stop and reflect a little bit when you’ve just celebrated a holiday whose main purpose (besides setting up those Black Friday sales, apparently) is to express gratitude?
Let me start off this discussion by letting you know I am an exceptionally classy girl. I drink my champagne (teeny tiny amount, given the massive antibiotics) out of fine crystal. Sparkling crystal, with a satisfying weight and heft.
With a straw.
Yes, a straw. The straw that accompanied my drinking of water, juice, and other clear fluids and was only replaced by a demitasse spoon when I tried to eat my Thanksgiving chicken broth and pureed potatoes. Somehow, the nasty infections I’ve had the last month or so gravitated to my jaw, which is all swollen and inflamed. It’s been all broth, all the time in my world.
But I didn’t really mind. For one, it was still better than the festive Thanksgiving can of vanilla Ensure I had a few years ago when I was six days into an inpatient admission. For another, since I am both gluten-free and dairy-free and the best of the traditional family recipes depend on copious amounts of both gluten and dairy for their flavor, I have long since abandoned the notion of getting too excited for Thanksgiving dinner.
Which, I suppose, is my point here. It doesn’t matter what foods you can or can’t eat. For one meal, it doesn’t matter whose heart has stents, whose sugar needs to be tested, whose back hurts or whose lungs are congested. It doesn’t matter how many aches and pains are present, who is tired or run down, who is coming down with something or who isn’t yet over something else. It doesn’t matter how many body parts don’t work right.
The food is important, the traditions have meaning. But they only have meaning because of the people who have created them and maintained them, the people who gather around the same table every year, making toasts with heavy crystal and passing plates around. So even if you can’t eat the pie or the stuffing, even if you pass on the dessert because it has too much sugar, even if you need some help passing a big bowl of potatoes because your arms are too weak, you’re still part of something larger than any recipe or any one meal.
So for that something larger, and for all those parts that do work right, and for the gift of presence and participation—I am grateful.