As a morbidly obese, perennial dieter, I've almost come to view food as a curse. I've certainly referred to it as an addiction and a source of great misery for me. Thanksgiving is about celebrating the blessings and plenty in our lives, but it's that every day plenty that has been a major contributing factor in my unhappiness for the last decade.
This is one of the great paradoxes of our modern world. You can have too much of a good thing even while those around you are desperate for just a fraction of what you have.
I remember reading last year about people in Haiti who had to resort to eating cookies made from dirt just to survive. As an island nation, Haiti has to import many of the goods it's people depend on. Last year, as the price of doing that became astronomical and storms damaged much of the nation's crops, people had to resort to desperate measures just to ease the pain of their inconceivable hunger.
The situation is equally dire in Zimbabwe where hunger has become an inescapable master for many people. Political unrest has given rise to widespread famine. On my way in to work the other day, I couldn't stop crying when I heard the story of Katy Phiri, an elderly Zimbabwean who hadn't eaten in three days and was struggling to find food for herself and her grandson. She was foraging for kernels of corn that had been dropped and left behind after the harvest. Children are foraging for termites just to find enough nourishment to stay alive.
I know it sounds like I'm wagging a wooden spoon at you and saying, "children in China would be grateful for that food, young lady!" That's not my intention. Sometimes I'm just taken aback by the contrast of plenty and abject poverty in the world. It's unthinkable that while I struggle to force myself to push back from the table, someone else is starving to death in another corner of the world. There doesn't seem to be any justice in it. Why should I have too much when so many don't have enough?
So tomorrow, when I sit down to my Thanksgiving feast, I will not obsess about my food choices. I will not weigh and measure and worry. I don't intend to gorge myself, either. My focus will be on gratitude that I should be part of the fortunate few that has the option of overeating and of providing food for my friends and family. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I intend to enter into the true spirit of the season and direct my energy toward giving thanks. I will try to see food as the blessing that it is. My diet will be waiting patiently for me on Black Friday.