It’s Thanksgiving Day…

…why are you reading blogs?

In the meantime, there’s snow on the ground, and we have grandchildren coming to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner (no river or woods involved, though). I’m doing most of the dinner, and it’s probably my most traditional one in recent years: homemade cornbread stuffing for the turkey, and I even plan to do homemade dinner rolls.

Years ago, I had some e-mail exchanges with one of the researchers inside of the BioSphere 2 experiment, an attempt to live for an extended period within an ecologically self-contained environment. The researcher talked about an upcoming holiday (which may well have been Thanksgiving) and the prospect of a “feast”. She noted that their daily diet was pretty constrained, but they had been setting choice foods aside and saving up special treats to have a large, abundant meal. She talked about the psychological boost of such a feast, even just in anticipation.

In the superabundance of the early 21st century, at least through much of the industrialized world, I think we have lost sight of what a feast truly represents, in terms of work, sacrifice and reward. I bought our 20 lb frozen turkey at Safeway for $7.99 (club member price) — it’s not a creature that I have raised, fed, and protected over several months or years, and then picked out and slaughtered to feed my family. And while the meal itself will be more formal and expansive that most of our meals here at home — about the only time that Sandra and I have “sit down” meals is when we have company over — it doesn’t represent any real departure in the quality or quantity of food we have at our disposal.

And I am thankful for that. I have been through some major ups and downs in my life. I have gone through divorce, un(der)employment, bankruptcy, and foreclosure. I have known what it is like to lose weight due to a lack of food in the house (something that would likely benefit me now), what it is like to have only $20 to buy a week’s groceries for 9 people (2 adults, 7 kids) to supplement the food storage at home, what it is like to buy just 1/2 lb of ground beef at a grocery store, what it is like to ask a young teenage son not to take seconds at dinner in order for there to be enough leftovers for dinner the following night.

I am thankful for those times, just as I am thankful for the two years I spent in Central America, eating a lot of rice and beans along with some more, ah, unusual dishes, and spending time daily with people who had far less than I did. I particularly remember the day in the spring of 1974 when Paul Quigley (my missionary companion) and I found ourselves suddenly and unexpectedly out on the streets of Managua, Nicaragua, with our suitcases and with no idea where we’d be sleeping that night. We did find a new place to live by that evening, but for several hours I dealt with finding myself — all of 20 years old, and without a lot of cash in my pocket — homeless thousands of miles from home in a foreign city still largely in ruins from a massive earthquake a bit over a year earlier.

There is much that I am thankful for and for which I give thanks daily. But on this day, I am particularly grateful for a roof over my head, for a warm bed and warm clothes, and for food on the table. Even now, I don’t take any of that for granted. May God bless you all on your Thanksgiving days, wherever you are. ..bruce w..

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