There is so much to love about this time of year but my favorite thing is a holiday meal. I imagine our big family all gathered around the table in a home filled with delicious smells waiting to eat our favorite dishes. In my head it looks like a Normal Rockwell painting: the one with the big happy family sitting around the table with the head of the household holding up the big turkey (Freedom from Want 1943).
But that description doesn’t give Norman Rockwell the credit he deserves. There is far more to that painting than you might see at first glance and I think the “unseen” part means the most to me.
Let me explain.
To jog my middle-aged memory, I looked up the painting online. Interestingly, it was created during the Second World War in a time of horror and need when many people didn’t have much. I looked again at the photo and besides the overly large turkey there is actually not a lot of food on the table. There is water in the glasses, a bit of celery, a small amount of cranberry sauce, fruit, a covered dish, and just a few pickles. Not much food for the 12 people (photographer implied) sitting around the table.
To me, this painting shows abundance and lack simultaneously. In a time of great despair and loss there sits a family to share whatever food is available and more importantly support, love, and enjoy one another.
This perspective of loss speaks strongly to me. My mother died this time of year 29 years ago and I can still find myself sad. Others around me have suffered great loss as well. Often when we are most happy we feel loss of those we have loved the most. Life doesn’t spare any of us from great sadness. Many others continue to need even the most basic of items. This time of year can be very hard for many people.
But a meal allows us to share and support one another. Share our lives. We talk, laugh, support, and even drive each other crazy. If your table is like my table not one person is quite like the next. We are different religions; some are rich, some poor, some Democratic, and some Republican. We even have Sox fans and Cubs fans in the same room. Needless to say sometimes we have good conversations and sometimes they can get quite heated. But we are all there for each other. We do our best: even if it is difficult. Sometimes we invite friends and people who don’t have a place to go. We share food; sometimes it tastes good, sometimes not so much. This last Thanksgiving I managed to burn the brussel sprouts and forgot the cranberry sauce in the fridge. We laugh. We cry.
Interesting, my favorite thing is the family meal but I didn’t talk much about food? See- it’s not about the food. Sure that tastes good. But my favorite thing is the love and support – the human kind.
Wishing you and yours a holiday season filled with love, support, and good holiday meals.
Written by Sarah Gold, MS, RD, LDN
Sarah Gold is an intuitive eater, dietitian, chocolate lover, and dog lover,