The U. S. version of a Harvest celebration is known as Thanksgiving, and it’s the fourth Thursday of November – next week. Traditionally, it begins the “Holiday Season,” sometimes known as the five to six-week food orgy that takes us to the New Year.
In many countries, it’s a community activity, but in the U. S., it’s often a family event. In my family, it was huge as my grandmother’s brothers and sisters gathered, and in time they brought their families. I knew all my cousins, aunties, and uncles, as well as my great-grandmother. Add in a few college students who couldn’t go home for the holiday, and we easily we set places for 60+ people. It began with everyone arriving on Wednesday evening and ended after a pancake breakfast on Friday morning.
We’re fewer now as my grandmother’s generation is almost gone, but it’s still a day to giggle with my cousins. My grandmother had all the family recipes, so our meal tastes like it always has, although many of us take more of a measured approach rather than stuffing ourselves so much that we could barely waddle to the sofa to watch “The Game.”
The thing is, it’s so much less about the food than the shared experience. The treasured moments are the unexpected ones, the goofs or near-miss of disasters, the shared moments. It’s the ongoing calculations when you only have one oven. How many dishes have to be baked?
It’s the many efforts to get the sink unclogged because one of the young cousins put too many vegetable peelings down the disposal at once (that will make a GREAT story when he’s older).
The feast provides the task that brings us together, but it’s not why we choose to gather. It’s good stuff, but it’s not the joy of the day. Gratitude is the purpose, but the relationships that place us where we are.
We often get so focused on the food that we miss the joy of the event. How can you do both? Plan in a way that helps support your goals? Yes, there will be plenty of food, so make your choices to feast, moderate, or stay on plan as best you can. Whatever you choose, enjoy every bite, savoring the flavors, scents, and textures. Most of all, enjoy your friends and family.
Planning ahead will make a huge difference.