Giving of Thanks

Every year on the fourth Thursday of November, I've gathered with family to eat a feast.  When I was young, we would switch between my mom's family and my dad's.  When I got older, we started doing our own dinner.  When Karen and I moved out here to Tennessee, far away from almost all our family, we went to visit my brother in Louisiana (which was still not very close--about 15 hours away).  Two years ago, I did my own dinner here at my house and invited several friends over.  Last year, Conrad and I did our own dinner with just the two of us.  Every year (for as long as I can remember) we've always had at least twice as much food as we've needed, and plenty more than everyone can stuff themselves with.

I've never really stopped and asked myself why we do this.  How is eating a bunch of food an expression of gratitude?  I can understand back in 1621 why the two would coincide.  The very first harvest was plentiful, and they wanted to celebrate by consuming a good portion of the food they had grown.  That makes sense because going hungry was a real concern back then.  But now we can grow food any time we want to and famine doesn't quite pose the same threat as it used to.  I don't think that I need to eat a big meal in order to celebrate abundance.  I don't need to be eating any big meals anytime.  (Conrad does, but he still wouldn't gain weight even if he did.)

Mormons have an interesting tradition.  Once a month, they fast for 2 meals (consecutively) and pay the church the money they would have spent on those meals.  This money (at least some of it) is then used to buy food for people who can't afford it.  My own family was the recipient of this charity for a time when I was a child.

I think that I will combine these two ideas together.  Instead of cooking a large meal like I have done in the past, stuffing myself to the point of immobility, and having leftover turkey and potatoes for a week, I will eat a normal meal and give the extra money to people who can't afford to buy their own food.  I feel as though I am not being grateful for what I have if I consume it unwisely and voraciously.  I think that the best way for me to show that I am grateful for what I have is to share some of my abundance with other people--particularly people who are in need.  And so, I will donate to Second Harvest, a local food bank.  I will also be donating again on December 17, when my donation will be matched.