thanksgiving evening is weird
Thanksgiving evening is a weird feeling.
I spent the day out with family. My aunt hosting, crushed olive hors d'oeuvres, red wine, great uncles, football on Direct TV, and not few Republican laments about Obama.
And after pumpkin pie, I did go back for apple crisp. And then coconut cream pie.
There's the fake kisses, long small talks, phone calls from out of state, and then my drive back to the city, a little less than an hour with no traffic. I stopped at Walgreens on the way home cause I had run out of Dial, and I expressed sympathy with the cashier for having to work 'till 6:30pm on Thanksgiving. "Now it's gonna be 7:30," her boss walked up and joked.
There's the return to the apartment and the kicking of the shoes and e-mail check and the casual browsing on Amazon.
But these aren't the weird part.
It's that time about 7:45pm when I identify what's been bothering me for the last thirty minutes.
I ate today! I ATE today! White meat turkey (two ladles of gravy), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes thick enough to stand up, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and raisins, soft rutabaga, dips, and oven-baked dressing in the middle to keep the wrong juices from flowing together.
The weird part is admitting that it could be true. That me microwaving some leftover soup and snacking on corn chips while the last 45 seconds count down isn't something dreadfully immoral. That six hours from the last meal really is a biologically acceptable time to return to the feeding. But I still I feel gluttonous. Who needs more food on Thanksgiving?
These past months I've felt pangs when I notice how little I'm writing reflection. This is a genre that's helped me sort through years of confusing moments and big-grin highs. But school has tended to suck the writing and creative contemplation right out of me into critical book reviews and take-home exams, leaving scarce left-over words for text messages and terse to-do lists. So tonight, as I think, I'll take it as the grace of God on a late November evening.
And on Thanksgiving, spiritual is where I've gotta go. But it's not to rehash my necessary gratitude for extravagant American wealth in contrast with a poverty-clasped world; my three desserts to a cross-ocean family's hunger. This is not because this thought is not strikingly true (to whom much is given…), but that it is not striking enough.
Maybe instead I'm noticing the inescapable similarities between reheating leftovers and choosing turkey from this afternoon's candle-heated silver tray. Between the ordinary and the celebratory. Maybe it turns out that what we counted at 2pm as Food To Die For is the same substance I'm eating tonight as I'm Hungry Just Like Every Day At This Time. That I make much of something that isn't special. That the consecrated isn't remarkably changed from the plain.
Sure there are some special foods that I don't often eat (my grandma makes cranberry sauce with orange rind bits that could solve Mideast peace). But for the most part: food is food. And I don't emphasize this to desacralize the holiday as much as to bless the ordinary.
Sure, I'm struck by the wealth I live in that I "take for granted"; the vegetables I ate in early life because Mom's rhetoric included those starving African children. But if I'm taking anything for granted, it's that the Spirit is the one who animates my life, not the food. That special-ness (and there should be that) is brought by the same overlooked One who runs circumstance-independent throughout my life, mundane or not. The Blessings, the Right-ness, the Peace That Makes No Sense--comes from my citizenship in a kingdom is built by wine I don't stock.
The prayer of thanks said in tired corners of the world over Too Little is the same dependence on the same food from the same God who both gives and takes what we need for life.
Meaning a beeping microwave—if moved by the King Who Gives—can be more a holiday than anything else I've experienced today. Extra-Ordinary Thanksgiving at 7:45pm. Weird.