Thanksgiving not only about eating

By Clyde Davis: Local Columnist

Is there anybody out there who wishes, at this time of year, for wild rice stuffing?

C’mon, anybody out there? I don’t mean the type that comes in a box, taking only a few minutes to make. I mean the kind my mom used to make, from the slow-cooking rice. It would be misleading to say that it took her all day to make; it took a few minutes to make and all day to cook.

What about mincemeat pie? Maybe that’s another regional thing. It is a kind of raisin mixture, at least as interpreted in our household, with a thick and well-baked crust.

The filling includes spiced apples, raisins, cranberries and nuts. With this, I must make the obvious disclaimer that this was the recipe used in our house, as I grew up. Like my mom’s wild rice stuffing compared with someone else’s, I’m sure there are variations on the theme.

Thanksgiving is about food. With the high percentage of Americans who are reportedly overweight, it may seem like an exercise in futility to celebrate a holiday devoted largely to food. After all, recent finding would tell us that we are large because we are devoted to food. There are, however, several issues here.

As a sidetrack — I firmly believe that obesity is a result, not of good eating, but of bad eating; not of that which tastes good, but of bad taste. In plain terms, I think junk food is largely responsible for our cultural chubbiness, along with its favorite accompaniment, lack of exercise. I still believe that, if you follow coach Kasimankas’ food pyramid, you will eat healthily.

The main point, however, has to do with gratitude and awareness of food as a gift from the Divine. We all know the mythos behind the first Thanksgiving: that if the Great Spirit hadn’t told Squanto and Massasoit to help out the helpless Wasichu who knew next to nothing about how to survive, there would not have been a Thanksgiving. This is not flippancy, it’s awareness.

The Pilgrims and their hosts were aware of something many of us have lost sight of. Food, shelter, warmth and safety are not things to be taken lightly or for granted. On the contrary, they are blessings from above. In our age of plenty, we too easily overlook this. In our age of being separated from our food sources, we forget this.

That was why I began this article with the memory of my mom’s wild rice stuffing. All of the ingredients were “from the source,” to a large extent.

We passed out a neat story as part of our church stewardship campaign a few weeks ago. It was, to summarize, about a Native Alaskan group who, at least until quite recently, lived a lifestyle that kept them in close contact with their food source — the whale hunt.

So whether you took your turkey on the wing or bought it frozen, with cash, not shot pellets, remember that this day of gratitude, marked in many cultures under different names, is to remind us that we ought to remain close, in spirit, to the awareness of gratitude.