Gratitude and Meaningful Metaphors

First, I want to thank the twenty-five Fellowship members and Fellowship-adjacent persons who attended the Shabbat service, presentation by Rabbi Peter Grumbacher on the experiences of his father and of his own growing up in the home of a survivor, potluck dinner, and oneg (post-service coffee and dessert) at Temple House of Israel (THOI) on November 9. The rabbi and the members of the Temple are most appreciative of the strong show of support and solidarity from the community, including us. Our attendance was gratefully received by the synagogue community, and it did their hearts good to see every seat filled, including the rarely used balcony. Our congregations are natural allies, sharing a lot of values. Our relationship with THOI is one to nurture and protect. Thank you!

 

With Thanksgiving on the 22nd, November is a month of gratitude. It is a holiday that has evolved for me over time. I never needed to do too much scrubbing of the so-called “First Thanksgiving” story because it was never about that in my family.

 

When I was a young adult, my wife and three children and I lived in a tiny house next to the railroad tracks in a working class part of a college town. Many neighbors worked at the foundry, whose fumes and fallout polluted our neighborhood and ate the paint on our cars. There were plenty of neighbors unemployed too. We were getting by on one minimum wage position, and food was tight. A local group supplying food to those with food insecurity brought us Thanksgiving in a box: a small turkey, potatoes, canned corn and beans, a tin of gelled cranberry sauce, a bag of dinner rolls and more. For the five of us it was a feast. We roasted our turkey in our tiny oven, and we were grateful for the bounty we had received.

 

And it was then I realized for the first time that the groaning board and large dessert table of the extended family Thanksgivings of my childhood weren’t really about what we put in our bellies. The dessert table was about more than the enjoyment of sweet and rich treats, it was about the sweetness of life. The lean years gave perspective, and the simplicity of our fare made the metaphors explicit. We could enjoy this simple meal on the holiday because it was a symbol of all we had to be grateful for, even when that large, extended family experience was no longer nearby.

 

My wish for you as we head toward Thanksgiving is that your heart be made glad by seasonal and celebratory food that will enrich your heart, and that the metaphors lead us into true gratitude. And if this is a season or a year that is difficult for you, I wish you comfort and everything you need to feel truly grateful even in times of uncertainty.

 

Peace and Blessings,
Rev. Paul