The food can be as simple as iced tea and sandwiches on the kitchen table at home, as elegant as fine cuisine prepared by a skilled chef on a table set with linens and crystal, or as relaxed as hot dogs and hamburgers on a grill at the park. The choice of what to eat and where to eat is often central to the entire experience.
Food is one of the ways we spend time with people we like. It is the means by which we begin to get to know people we've just met. Food is also a way to affirm life. We bring food to a family who has experienced a death in part as a way to encourage the living to keep going forward. We honor the deceased and then we support and validate the life of those who continue on.
Sharing a meal creates an environment in which we create intimacy. Over a meal we can form bonds in ways that would be awkward or stilted if we didn't have some common activity to act as the setting. We come together to share in each other’s joys, sorrows, successes and challenges.
Those of us who feel challenged where our weight is concerned often approach this holiday season with anxiety specifically because of the type and amount of food involved. We sometimes lose sight of what the meal represents because we’re worried about somehow ‘failing’ in our plan. If our plan is to live a happier life, make conscious choices, and tap into the joy and confidence that lives inside us, then how could a few holiday meals derail us from that?
We can make a choice of food that feels good to us in any situation. We don’t have to discuss, agonize, analyze, or justify that choice to anyone. When we approach a Thanksgiving meal with gratitude in our minds and in our hearts, the meal takes a back seat. Our primary intention is to be present to the family and friends around the table.
Personally, I began to enjoy the holidays and my family much more when I stopped focusing on my own guilt and self-doubt where the food was concerned. Without that mental chatter around good foods and bad foods and whether or not I was a good or bad person based on what I was eating, I had room to pay attention to the other people in the room. I listened more attentively. I talked about much more interesting things than my weight. By leaving my personal anxiety about food behind, I began to look forward to the holidays because I enjoyed the people so much.
The food is the means to an end, and yet, it plays an essential role. It is the centerpiece on the table where the main meal is served. This year, let’s feast on that Main Meal, on heaping helpings of friendship, family unity, sharing, giving, and gratitude.