Oscar Wilde famously said:
“Life is too important to be taken seriously.”
This quote popped into my mind as I thought about the millions of people who are preparing to travel near and far to be with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Most families share a lot of love and laughter and also – let’s face it – our share of disagreements, squabbles and family dysfunction. It is sometimes helpful to remember that for the holiday to be successful it does not need to be perfect. Relationships are best viewed over time – not judged based on a single moment or missed opportunity. As you gather for the holiday I hope that you will approach the time you spend with your families of origin and/or your families of choice with an open mind and an open heart.
I also find it helpful to remind myself that for the holiday to be meaningful it doesn’t matter how simple or grand the food is or if the dishes are fine china or paper plates; what matters most is that we gather in the spirit of gratitude.
Author Laurie Colwin reminds us:
“The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”
As each of us gather with those we care about, remember, many of the best recipes are a mix of savory and sweet and the same can be said of relationships and life. Many of the sweetest desserts include ingredients that by themselves taste bitter or sour. Holidays can be like that too – the sweetness of our celebration may also contain moments of bitterness as we remember those who are no longer with us or think of those who are in need of healing.
So my hope for you this holiday season is that wherever you gather and whoever you with, I hope that the time will be a perfect mix of savory and sweet and that your table will be a gathering place overflowing with nourishment, and the joy and satisfaction that comes from spending time with those you care about and – if there are empty chairs at your gathering this year – you will be comforted by the memories of those who are no longer with us.