Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Willpower Wednesday

 Tomorrow is a big day for foodies here, and a big twinge for some of us vegetarians. We may go through the year dealing comfortably with other people's eating habits, as we should; but the day we have to face a huge and obvious carcass can be trying. It's not an anonymous hunk, it's got wings and legs and you know exactly what it's suppose to look like.

 And then there are the other mealtime trials. Cooks putting bacon in the green beans, gelatin in salads or pies, people slathering whipped cream on the otherwise safe desserts before the vegan gets a slice. It's a like an obstacle course on the table, all while sitting with your family that loves you-- sometimes to death!

 This is why people go out to drink heavily on the Friday after. Family Drama is a flippant phrase that doesn't begin to cover the reality some of us face each winter.

While the vegetables served have always been the true heart of this feast for me, the other necessary element, sharing, is more important than the food, yet so bound up within the complex web of food-related memory and emotions, the simplest detail can set off a schism, fueled by family dynamics that seem impossible to change.

 Pumpkin pies-- who makes them now that the former family baker is gone, and do they spice them the way you like? If you bring wine, are you supposed to please the hosts or the other guests with your choice? Little rivalries can expand in the heat of the holiday oven. Siblings and relatives  push our buttons as we plan our gatherings. The imperfections in how we love one another rise to consume us.

 Some years can sail by with barely a flutter of dysfunctionality, some drag you down before you even get to Thursday, with a weight of discord you cannot seem to remove. You know it will be worse once you're there. It's like a sick TV show-- let's just stuff 20 people with unresolved issues into a room meant for eight and see what happens!

Don't forget to bring that wine.

 If you decide to give it a rest for one November, one December, you know you're going to pay. I've thought about doing that, this year, myself, with a weight on my chest as I contemplate it only because of my mother. For reasons I can't comprehend, she needs this from us, even though she will experience as much tension, as little pleasure, as the rest of us. It won't be nice, there won't be good conversation, there won't be a sense of togetherness, but only the appearance of that.

 Maybe that's all we can do, some years-- show up for the sake of showing up. Avoid our expectations of the event, good and bad, and try to be our calmest, kindest selves going in. Family, friendships, marriage, art, all require this of us, to keep showing up no matter what it costs. Investment through sheer time put in, which hopefully pays a dividend here and there.

 Or maybe it means I need to refocus, and shift my perspective. To be thankful that whatever tattered family rituals are wrapped around it, and however much of my pie gets eaten, tomorrow is just another Thursday, and in 24 hours, it's over again.

Peaceful feelings to you; today, tomorrow and all the rest of this November--



  1. Happy Vegan Thanksgiving!

    - Where do I find your songs?

    B @ Atheist Advent

  2. Hey, Ben, thanks! I'll be posting Advent songs at, come December. Not ambitious enough to do every day, but at least a few per week, I think.

    I have a few I did during the summer, for the 50/90, here:

    & here:

    Looking forward to your offerings this year!

  3. Ah yes the 'here's some lentil soup but I've made it with chicken stock because it tastes nicer that way' and the 'of course you can eat it, there's only a little bit of ham in it!'

    We don't have Thanksgiving over here, so there's only the Christmas meal to think about.

    1. Exactly! Now, I'll need this whole month to get up the nerve to do a Solstice get-together.