Of death and gratitude, Thanksgiving ramblings

fall_2008-11_no-leaves-on-treeThanksgiving is a time of year when many are doing gratitude journals or practices and reflect on their many blessings. I love it! I love the introspection, the calmness, the desire for a bit more peace in our lives.

There are many things I am grateful for this year. Continuing to still make it in this sometimes odd blend of business and spirituality with your support is on the top of the list. Ability to learn with an amazing herbal teacher and bring that knowledge to my world has been huge. The kids are a delight, most of the time, and everyone is healthy, most of the time, and well. We have a roof over our heads, and yummy food on the table. Life is abundant and supportive. Many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, we have new neighbors who have to rebuild a house they bought due to fire. And they are clear-cutting the magnificent old trees that were on their property. We are all closely smooshed together, so it feels like it’s happening right in our backyard. And I can’t help but feel a sense of loss and despair. Will they really cut all the trees? Did they have to cut so many already? Did they have to move the location of the house? Do humans always have to destroy to accommodate our needs? For the last three mornings we’ve been waking up to a sound of machinery chewing down on trees and an altered landscape. Death feels very palpable at the moment.

Of course, fall is the season for death, for slowing down, for turning inwards. Come spring, and everything will perk up again, with new hope and new life. But for now, for now we grieve. We grieve and give thanks for things we have, knowing that all can be gone in an instant. Cherish the moment.

Is cooking fun?

I just came across an article on Slate and wanted to share few thoughts too. The article is about the burdens of making family dinner and how it’s often romanticized by the local food movement. It has become a common knowledge, I think, that cooking dinners at home is healthier than eating out. It’s also cheaper compared to going to a nice place for dinner. It is probably not cheaper if you are hitting the drive-through, but then the health benefits are a lot more obvious.

The article cited a study of 150 mothers who did not particularly find joy in cooking, due to time issues, money, and picky eaters, both adult and kids. Now, I have to admit, the only picky eater in my family is my 18 year old son, who might or might not eat what we have for dinner, or any other meal. If he doesn’t eat with us, he is on his own. He cooks occasionally, either for himself or the whole family. My husband enjoys most of what I make and is grateful for the home-cooked meal as he doesn’t cook himself. And the 2 year old eats what we eat. She is good to try a spoon of anything, but after that might fall back on stuff she likes. It seems that she eats enough different foods that I don’t worry about it. In this sense, I guess I am unlike the study participants, in that I don’t have to worry about picky eaters. I also like cooking and I guess have enough skill in the kitchen.

We do have our own problems with cooking though. First of all, coming up with menus day in and day out can get repetitive and annoying. Second, my work schedule is not very conducive to a set meal time. Sometimes I work in the morning, often times in the evening, just as everyone else sits down for dinner. We have yet to come to a solution that really works for our family. Our meal times are all over the place, with the only rule is that we try not to eat a big meal too late in the day. So for me, cooking is not always fun and joy, but I am open to it being so.

One thing that I think is related to all of this is our lack of appreciation of cooking and the amount of work it does take to put a good meal on the table every day. If you’ve ever watched any of the period reality shows, like Pioneer House, I think it becomes obvious. The common element of those shows is that the women are miserable and the men are happy. The men found their purpose doing “manly” tasks, and the women resent having to go back to doing “womanly” tasks. Both jobs are super-important to the survival of the family, yet cooking and cleaning seem so undervalued, that women can’t wait to get out of that environment and back to modern day with modern conveniences. This is not a call to get back to the house and stick to cooking and cleaning, but it is a food for thought.

Does your family appreciate your cooking? And do you appreciate your cooking and think it’s an important task? And, if you are a guy doing most of the family’s cooking, do you feel the same pressures? Would love to read your comments!