In Ontario, we celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday in October, a time when harvest is in the air and fall fairs abound. It is a quiet holiday, sometimes combined with closing up the cottage for those families who have a summer place on one of the beautiful northern lakes. Most often Thanksgiving in Ontario centres on family; many college students make the journey home from college, often for the only time before the big break in December, and extended family members scattered to the four winds gather at the ruling matriarch’s or patriarch’s home to share celebratory family dishes and catch up on family news. For those without blood relations nearby, close friends gather on this holiday for potluck dinner parties in which stories are exchanged about the origins of recipes and the transformation of rituals over time. Food stories often reflect the bitter and the sweet aspects of these gatherings.
Here in my adopted American home in Vermont’s Northeast King/Queendom, Thanksgiving is a much larger cultural event. Hunting season announces the approach of the big day, Black Friday advertisements saturate television viewers, supermarkets exhort shoppers to order their free-range-antibiotic-free or Butterball turkeys early, and sports networks promise unforgettable gladiatorial contests among football teams on Thanksgiving weekend. On the surface, American Thanksgiving might seem to be all about the football, the shopping, and the general over-indulgence, but whenever I ask anyone about their Thanksgiving plans, the answer is always the same: it’s about the food. Foods we used to eat, foods we continue to eat, foods we’re planning to eat with our family and friends, are spoken of with shining eyes and beatific smiles. From these folks I’ve learned that recalling past kitchen wizardry is as much a part of the joy of the American Thanksgiving celebration as whatever might be actually eaten on the current big day.
Thanksgiving, whether in Ontario or Vermont, is about food, but it is also about memory and hope. This year, we tell ourselves, there will be no quarrels; this year, every dish will be perfect and ready on time; this year, we will bring our best selves to the table and live the love we dream about when we are absent from one another. This year we will remember to be thankful and it will be our best Thanksgiving yet.
Thanksgiving, whether in Ontario or Vermont, is also about diplomacy. Choosing to eat sparingly, or to eat only vegetables, or to bring the Paleo diet to the table and so insult Aunt May’s Sweet Potato Pie, are choices that can begin a chain reaction serious enough to draw up battle lines and carry the same energy as international incidents. People are invested in having others love what they cook for them. Others are invested in not eating what they don’t want to eat. Learning to be authentic and self-nurturing at family food celebrations is one of the most challenging tasks of maturity, and early in the process, we often throw ourselves under the bus just to keep the peace.
EFT bathroom sessions can make the difference between caving in to others’ wishes and expectations or asserting with love that the food choices we are making are vital to our health and well being. A private round of “Even though I feel all this pressure to poison myself with _______________ (sugar, fat, or some other food the family expects all will eat), I choose to set my own standards lovingly and begin a conversation about healthier food choices,” may prove too radical for a first-time celebratory food challenger. It may feel safer to begin with: “Even though I hate to disappoint my ______________ (Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Aunt Uncle, Best Friend . . . this list is extensive), I choose to politely make food choices that honour my current sense of growing well being.”
Starting the Food Conversation can be challenging. Changing our food habits often brings out the defensive, scrappy, deeply addicted parts of ourselves that really don’t want to change and that resent anyone, including our wellness professionals, who urge us to address the lifestyle choices that will make a difference to our health. We all have this inner resistance to change, and we all have the power to convert resistance into an alliance supporting improved health and well being. This process always begins with consciousness.
Shining our inner spotlight on food attitudes is the beginning of an amazing journey. Cultivating a light and tender curiosity concerning our beliefs about food can help to uncover old patterns of fear and coercion that, reduced through EFT tapping, free us to develop deep reverence for the process of preparing and sharing food, a reverence that transforms every food experience into a celebratory one. In these times of food deserts, food insecurity, food adulteration, food deprivation, and food gluttony, inviting a sense of reverence into our daily relationship with food makes a difference to our spiritual, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Awareness of what we eat and why we eat it is the beginning of this reverence.
Until next week