Comfort Food Day

Comfort Food Day


Noah benShea

It’s tough to imagine an experience that is more primal and uniting than folks eating together. This is an experience that is not only pre-written history it is prehistoric. And of all the days when eating together matters, Thanksgiving matters most.

It is an important issue in life to distinguish between being alone and being lonely. Unfortunately, for anyone eating alone on Thanksgiving the distinction blurs. My insight on this is experiential not intellectual.

Unfortunately also, for some who are joining others on Thanksgiving it is in community that true isolation is experienced. And in the face of this it is worth remembering that God is never so with us as when we feel alone.

Little fights feeling blue like comfort food and Thanksgiving could easily be renamed Comfort Food Day. Everything on the traditional Thanksgiving menu seems to slide down and purr on the way down.

Now I’ve had some real belt buster Thanksgiving meals, but in those first few minutes when platters are just getting passed around and everything is prospect – is there anything better?

Post 9/11 and with all the current financial shudders, for a lot of us cuddling in at home has become the best night out. And Thanksgiving is the ultimate night in front of the fireplace – even for those without a fireplace.

A guy who worked in the Twin Towers stepped out for a cup of coffee five minutes before the first plane hit. A lot of folks never made it to the coffee break. And a lot of families are broken. The funny thing, and there’s nothing funny about this, is that these days a lot of folks feel that they have both less to be thankful for and more. Life’s like that. And it’s been like that, at least since the Pilgrims.

Being comfortable isn’t the best spice for comfort food. What made the Thanksgiving meal memorable for the Pilgrims was the background, the circumstances, against which the meal was served. I say “served” but perhaps a better term is “waged.” We wage war. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to wage gratitude.

The honesty and heroism of Thanksgiving is not that everything is going to be okay but that in spite and despite what might be everything is going to be okay while we sit down and share a meal together. Taking time for Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that the crops will be good, or that our neighbors will be kind, or that the world will be any warmer in the months ahead. But sharing a warm meal with people we love, and being kind to others is its own harvest in the face of uncertainty.

On each Sabbath eve, as I prepare to say the Blessing over the Wine, I pour the wine until it overflows the cup to remind me that my life is filled to overflowing. As I prepare now to head into Thanksgiving I know that there will be more food than I can eat. Conversely I know that there will be not one person at my table whose absence would not make me less.

This Thanksgiving may you also have more than you need, and may you know it. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving may you remember that the spiritually needy are any of us who forget how much we all need each other. Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2010, Noah benShea