My family is a little food obsessed. We grow as many of our own vegetables as we can, including dried beans, weird items like okra and celeriac, and all summer we fight the tomato blight, cucumber beetles and drought.
We’ve given a lot away to family and friends, but this year we still have more than enough pumpkins, blue hubbard squash, yams, potatoes and brussel sprouts. Not to mention the chickens and pork in the freezer. (360 pounds standing weight in the freezer. Bacon anyone?)
On Thanksgiving, all that harvest gets a place of honor in the form of side dishes that outshine the turkey. My son is the master chef who transforms the humble vegetables into mini works of art.
The gratitude stories start as soon as we sit down together. We recall the neighbor who tills our garden every year and gave good advice on garlic planting, the friend who helped us with the new raised beds (and dubbed our backyard “The Garden Center,” a moniker I can’t live down), the local farmer who taught us a lesson on properly grounding the electric fencer and setting up a pig watering spout, and the butcher who slaughtered our animals with reverence and gave us the ultimate compliment when he praised us for feeding our pigs grain instead of old cheese.
That’s the part of Thanksgiving that’s worth remembering. The thanks part. As one relative put it, “It shouldn’t be about the food.”
She is right — and wrong — about that. Sharing food with the people you love is an exercise in gratitude.
But celebrating Thanksgiving is bigger than that. It’s about the gratitude we hold in our hearts for one another, in spite of the pain of daily life, political differences and the suffering we cause and endure.
On one day a year, we are reminded to set those difficulties aside and give each other credit for making an effort to be kinder, understanding and more forgiving.
This Thanksgiving is an opportunity to find reasons to be grateful and even make it a daily habit.
With best wishes to you,
Founder and Executive Director, VTDigger