Gratitude with Attitude

canstockphoto0446766I’m crawling out of a dark place to raise a hand in greeting. Hey, how’s it going? It’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and we Americans are preparing to do what we do best: eating and shopping. Like locusts we descend on turkeys and retail stores, driven forward by the primitive urge to acquire. See what I mean about a dark place?

I have a tendency towards depression and cynicism during this time of year. All the family issues rise like dysfunctional zombies and remind us where we’re lacking. While people constantly talk and write and proselytize about our dubious consumerism, somebody will still be trampled on Black Friday and grown women will roll about on the ground fighting over the latest electronic device. Arrests will be made.

So I really have to reach deep to import some meaning to this day that redeems it. Thanksgiving, stripped of its religiosity and consumer feeding frenzy, can simply be a thank you for the bountiful harvest we have seen this autumn. And it turns out, you don’t need to spend it with family you don’t voluntarily see any other time of the year. Meals can generally be pleasant times and no one gets arrested.

Thanksgiving dinner is comprised of all my favorite foods. I’ve spent a good portion of my life thinking about food and in the last decade or so, about where it comes from, how it impacts my health and how it impacts the planet. We have so many choices in this country that one learns to tune out the “latest studies” or arguments about organic and GMO foods. Now, not only do I have to fend off emotional eating, but I’m supposed to quiet the political arguments in my head about the right thing to do.

I have raised a child who is a self-declared vegetarian with aspirations to be an ecologist. She has entered an irritating stage of self-righteous zeal. Be careful what you wish for as a parent. Nothing like having a 9-year-old staring balefully at you across the table while you hungrily chomp on a chicken breast. She’s a better human than her father or I, but unfortunately she now knows it.

Many of our meal discussions revolve around where food comes from, how it is harvested and whether or not it’s the best choice for a human body. We have a garden and have spent hours planning, planting and picking. During the dead of every winter, I fantasize over seed catalogs. It used to be a simple pleasure, but now, it too has become an internal argument.

Seed sourcing, preservation and control has become a rather intense issue, as seeds get modified, patented and sued over by behemoth corporations. There are people all over the U.S. doing their best to preserve unique varieties and heirloom seeds, while the majority of food is sourced from more and more homogeneous crops, owned by a handful of multinational corporations.

Humans and the planet benefit from biodiversity. Between the meteoric rise in allergies and obesity and the fact that 75% of our food supply is sourced from 12 plants, there’s a lesson in there somewhere. The dystopian future has arrived.

So here is my gratitude for this day: we can still choose not to go blithely into that dark night. We have the opportunity to pay attention, to educate ourselves, to teach our children about what is quickly going to be known as the “old-fashioned” way of growing food. There are few pleasures greater than the first bite into a garden grown tomato or watching your child happily pick raspberries off the canes, eating them as fast as they are being plucked. Connections – that is what holidays are about, even when you’re just talking about the bounty before you.

I generally don’t do promotions or book reviews or guest posting on this blog. It’s just a personal preference. I’m making a Thanksgiving exception for a blogging friend of mine, S. Smith. The third book in her Seed Savers series, “Heirloom” was just released. Seed Savers is written for middle school kids, although my elementary student really enjoyed her first two books and is just starting the third. It is my privilege to be part of her blog tour.

Seed Savers is about a future where gardening and saving seeds is against the law. The majority of people have forgotten what it was like to eat fresh produce. An underground movement seeks to preserve and pass on the seeds and gardening skills to future generations. It’s a fabulous adventure story for kids with a lesson (bonus for parents!).

treasure thumbnail 2lilythumbnailCover Design by Aileen Smith

Happy Thanksgiving from The Green Study!

31 thoughts on “Gratitude with Attitude

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you! Who knew the mere fact of trying to feed one’s family would become so fraught with danger!! But you are trying, as we are, and that has to count for something.


    1. I sometimes wonder about that effort, but it’s such a basic human need – to nourish ourselves. Certainly it deserves more thought and effort than most things. I hope that you are having a good day – you have definitely been in my thoughts. I’m in a bit of a funk, or else I would have written a more positive post, but I’m slowly making my way back into the light. Here’s hoping you have a gentle day!


      1. We all have days when we’re not totally positive, and that’s okay. I would be extremely suspicious of anyone who is always ‘up’. 🙂 The trick is to allow ourselves time to be down, and then banish the blues.


        1. I always think of it as “riding the wave”. For me, it’s an inevitable phase, especially when going through transitions. I just try to remember to be gentle with myself, get plenty of quiet time, sleep and keep a sense of humor (no matter how dark!).


  2. At least you’re trying, Michelle. Your child will be far better off than a lot of children because she is being taught to think about the things she does and consumes – about the consequences of living as a human on this planet. Thank you for that. I’m in a bit of a funk, too, girl, but slowly wending my way out of it. Happy Thanksgiving and may peace come to you soon.


    1. It’s really funny to hear her explain her beliefs to other kids – she’s so self-assured and intense about conservationism and being a vegetarian. I’m a little in awe of her.

      I’m slowly emerging from my surly, introspective stage (happens whenever I’m going through transitions) and I look forward to being energized and productive again. I hope you have some light soon as well and I wish you a lovely day!


  3. Happy Thanksgiving from my part of the good old USA to yours. Your blog reminded me of the thought that most of us are going to start growing ears of corn. The amount of corn syrup we take in annually is amazing.


    1. Thanks – Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, Don!

      If you start looking at products with plain old corn in them and not just the current bad fad of the syrup, it is pretty overwhelming how many processed foods use it. The impact of corporate agricultural lobbyists over our food supply (what gets promoted, subsidized, etc.) is disheartening, but there are a lot of organizations and people trying to keep food real. We are simplifying what we eat, but it’s a challenge!


  4. It’s no wonder thanksgiving sets up false expectations especially when considering your wonderful line about spending it with people you don’t voluntarily see any other time of year.


    1. Well, to continue along my current vein of being a horrible human being, my daughter’s mild flu nixed our family having to leave the house to be with others and I am delighted. The day has simply been lovely – quiet, no stress, still some good eats and random napping. No one wishes for their child to be ill, but I’d be daft to not appreciate the up side. Hope you are having a good day!


    1. Thanks! Yes, it’s an atmosphere rife with conversation and petty self-righteousness. No point in leaving home to visit relatives when we get all that at home. Still, the food has been delicious and napping has been a lovely luxury. Really, an ideal way to spend the day.


    1. Thanks – I have been a bit scarce at The Green Study lately – so many life changes. I’m looking forward to a long winter’s respite of writing and blogging, as I’ve missed my blogging friends. I hope that all is well with you and yours after the devastating typhoon. Best wishes, Michelle.


  5. I gave up The Holidays a few years ago. Instead, I’ve started my own tradition of preparing a pot of the healthiest soup I can dream up. This year was Roots and Greens—turnip, rutabaga, yam, onion, garlic with kale and spinach in vegetable broth seasoned with Garam Masala, salt & pepper.

    My holiday soups always make my body feel good (as opposed to bloated and poisoned ala traditional feasts). At this hard time of the year, it feels good to be nurturing instead of inflicting myself with more stress and drama.


    1. Wow – that sounds incredibly healthy. I still enjoy the mini-gluttony that accompanies the holiday, but didn’t overdo it. One of my goals this winter is to make better soups and breads. I had a lovely Thanksgiving, since we stayed home and were very low-key. I really rate it as one of my best holidays in a long time. No stress, no relative strangers (pun intended) and no travel. I’m optimistic that we can get through this holiday season virtually stress-free (I’m daring myself to do it).


    1. Thanks, Caitlin for reading and commenting. It really is a challenge to make ourselves slow down and think about it, as well as making it a priority in our busy schedules to be mindful in shopping and food preparation. I struggle with it daily!


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