Each autumn in the U.S. and Canada (October), we commemorate the celebration of harvest and peace between European settlers to the continent and local native inhabitants (check out this simple history of Thanksgiving from Kids National Geographic). We commemorate the pilgrims' gratitude with our own gratitude for all we receive throughout the year, and with a feast that harkens to the days when the harvest was a portent of survival for the winter ahead. We celebrate with food as we celebrate the food. We also celebrate, as I'm sure those Mayflower travelers did as well, the vast resources that go into our food, not least of which are the countless beings who help bring the food to the table. In the case of the settlers, it was native people who generously offered their knowledge and effort to help them survive. Our harvest is helped similarly by the generosity of others, be them mostly unseen to us in our modern age of shopping vs. harvesting directly from the earth (with exceptions, like us famers, gardeners and farm share volunteers, etc.).
We don't talk much about food here on the Boba Blog. We don't generally like to get into the myriad takes on what solids to feed children (or adults). Whatever you believe about food, one thing unites us: food gives life, and for this we give thanks. This thanks-giving is not just an annual event. For many families, giving thanks, saying grace, blessing meals, is an ongoing, conscious effort.
In my family, we have come to simply join our hands at our heart at the beginning of each meal. We say, "thank you," to those in our company (most often just me, my partner and my daughter). I also often say a few quiet words of gratitude to all those who had a hand in making the meal possible. It is important for me to remember the tremendous effort that goes into a meal, and doubly important to me that my daughter grows up with a sense of this as well. From the millennia of harvesting seeds, sowing and reaping by skilled and learning hands, by the bringing of foods to places where I find them by people I may never meet, to the contributions made along the way by animals and bugs and micro-organisms galore. I include in my heart also notes of thanks for my good fortune in being able to acquire healthy food and clean water, to have the health to prepare these things for my family, to have a dear family to share them with.
I was tickled a few weeks ago when one day at lunch, my now 16 month old daughter suddenly clapped her hands together and nodded at me, then my partner. She now is often the first one to bring her hands together for grace before a meal. She even says, "tonk-oo" or "gos-os" (thank you or gracias). It melts my heart to see her absorbing this practice of gratitude, even if she has yet to consciously adopt the reasoning.
There are countless things to be thankful for each and every moment of every day. I treasure the stillness we take after sitting down and before raising my fork, to honor these things. Though I sometimes have to remind myself to slow down in this way, even my, "Oops," before dropping my fork is a welcome reminder to slow down. This holiday, I offer up a special prayer of thanks, a grace for the grace I am so fortunate to receive.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I give thanks for you, too, the parents who contribute endlessly to this world by raising loved and loving children.