It’s interesting. The one thing most of us have been taught to be thankful for is our food. Many of us were raised to “say grace” before our meals. However, in this affluent society in which we live, many of us have never had to worry about actual starvation. And many of us have been blessed never to have had to worry about having three meals a day. Therefore grace has become a relatively meaningless ritual.
This was certainly not true of our ancestors. Our ancestors often had great cause to worry about the weather and other conditions beyond their control. If there was a drought, for instance, they would starve. There wouldn’t be sufficient grain or vegetation to feed everyone. The animals, too, would suffer. The cows might be unable to give milk. And with exceedingly dry weather, the grasshoppers and locusts could proliferate leading to absolute devastation when they ate every living thing in sight.
Conversely, if there was too much rain, fields could get flooded out. Potatoes would get mushy and moldy. Other vegetables would rot on the vine. And weather wasn’t the only thing they had to be concerned about. If invaders attacked the village, they might set the fields on fire. If the king demanded too much food from the peasants, there wouldn’t be enough left for themselves.
We have it good here in the U.S. We’ve been blessedly free of invading armies. And if there are droughts or floods in one part of the country, we can usually obtain food from another part of the country or world, albeit at slightly higher prices. And we probably have enough canned goods to hold us through some lean times. However, what if we run out of gas? What if there is no way to ship produce or grain from one part of the country to another? Or what if there is a widespread blackout and all the stored perishables perish? Or what if we foolishly pollute most of our potable water? (A very real threat due to the pervasiveness of fracking.)
Those of our friends and neighbors who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy last year or Katrina in New Orleans a few years ago or by the recent huge typhoon that hit the Philippines, know what its like to have one’s infrastructure destroyed. We can take nothing for granted. We are very, very blessed to have homes, kitchens, power, and food.
So when you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal, to a table bending under the weight of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and corn, remember that you are very, very blessed. The Earth was good to us. The Sun blessed us. We had sufficient Rain. We had people willing to grow and harvest our crops. (Bless especially those who work so hard to harvest our crops – especially migrant workers who often live in such meager, humble homes. Bless, too, those farmers who have family farms and work so endlessly hard. And bless those who are committed to raising healthy, organic food.) We had trucks and gasoline and truckers willing and able to transport our food. We had roads on which these truckers could drive. We also had people willing to prepare our food. (Bless, bless, bless all the millions of women who work so hard on the holidays to prepare our food so beautifully. If men only knew just how hard women work on holidays, those supposed days “off from work.”) (And yes, I know there are a few men out there who cook. Bless them.)
In addition, there are oh so many of our fellow Americans, as well as world citizens, who do not have the resources to buy or grow the food we take for granted. An article in the Washington Post reports that 47 million Americans are on food stamps – fully one sixth of the population. I personally have a few friends who have had to resort to food stamps to feed themselves and their families. And there have been a few times in the last three years when I, too, would have qualified. (I eked through those times, but I confess I did rely on food pantries and food banks a few times.)
If you have never had to resort to these measures, consider yourselves blessed. All it takes to get there is the loss of a job and the inability to find another. All it takes is a sudden or chronic illness which saps financial resources. If you have always had food on your table and in your pantry, you truly do not understand how blessed you are.
We have so much to be grateful for. Truly, truly.
So if you say grace before your Thanksgiving meal, remember that it takes many, many people and many, many blessings to ensure that you have that food and drink on your table. Let’s not take any of it for granted.
May you and your family be richly blessed this Thanksgiving Day.