Today I was working in the kitchen making stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey. I had gone out into my garden, frosty with winter’s mantel, to pick herbs and small greens. I said hello to the plants, plants that still give to me, while being dormant in the cold ground. I smelled the herbs in my hand, pungent. I was anticipating their bitter flavor mixed with the sweet of dried apples and raisins, harvested earlier in the fall and dried for winter storage, next year’s stash of hiking food. I was happy with the smells, and cleaned and chopped to release their flavor, so they could blend with the wild rice and sautéed onions and celery. I was happy that I had the time, the full attention without guests chattering around me, to be with these plants, admire their shape, their hardiness, the simplicity of their purpose.
I reminisced about Thanksgivings past, when I had to hurry to get all the traditional food items prepared, when there was a house full of people, bringing their energy together in a big bouquet of thankfulness around a table. I am a grandmother now, and the children don’t travel over the hills and through the woods to sit around my table. It’s too far, there is not enough time in their busy lives. We plug into our devices and talk while we chop, watch via Skype or Face time, while one changes a baby’s diapers, another shares a vegan recipe, I learn to fold napkins in the shape of a rose from my 5 yr old granddaughter via the screen.
The smells of food cooking, fills my nostrils. I am in the quiet of my home preparing a feast that asks to be shared, to be toasted with a glass of wine, to be savored with conversation. The best of what I have, what my garden provided, what my purse can buy, it wants to be seen, smelled, shared and tasted.
There is a man walking around the world right now, following the trails of people migrations from their origins, a walk from Eden. It will take him almost seven years to complete his journey. He shares meals with people along the way. He gives thanks for the food offered. Through sharing food he connects with people in many cultures. Wherever he goes he finds that the people all want the same thing, a home, a piece of land to grow food, to raise children and share with others. Why then do we fight the wars that we are fighting, why then can’t we live in peace next to each other?
This one day of the year, by being together and sharing a meal from what the earth gave us, we celebrate the essence of what it is to be people. I am glad that we hold on to this tradition, before we go full steam ahead into greedy Black Friday, into glittery Christmas overloaded with gifts.
It takes practice to feel thankfulness in my heart. It takes paying attention to what I have, to what I do, and how I feel. This winter, may you find a way to slow down, savor, and appreciate. The seasons of abundance, spring and summer, will be here soon enough.
If you are reading this you have made a choice to continue after reading the title I tried to hook you with. You made a choice to forego, Apple News, MIC blogs, NY times news, twitter, tweets, a free ebook from Bookbub, your favorite health site, maybe even your socially responsible investment fund blog, all places you can read about things and events that are dramatic, interesting, funny, thought provoking and even irritating. And yet you are reading this blog. Maybe it was the first line, maybe you follow my blog because you are my friend, or maybe you were bored and made that one click while wasting time on Facebook.
A study done by Commonsense Media, a San Francisco based non profit trying to find solutions for the overwhelming amount of screen time youth are exposed to, states that the average amount of time youth between age 8 and 18 spend connected to a screen, is 9 hours a day. Average time, 9 hours a day! This does not include reading on e-readers, this does not include doing homework. I was shocked when I heard this. When are they eating, exercising/running around, sleeping, having sex? OK, I get it, you can eat and watch/text, tweet, at the same time. I guess you can run and text, maybe, definitely listen to music. I suppose you can have sex while watching your friends make out on Instagram, watch a scary movie while you are exploring your partner’s body, no eyes needed. But sleeping, you must turn the screen off if you sleep. Correct me if I am wrong on this one, maybe there is a sleep channel they tune in to.
I asked some millennials what they think is the issue of their generation. They said without hesitating, media, being connected to a screen all the time, having a virtual presence, and working on keeping that virtual presence alive. I imagine 12 yr olds posting pictures of themselves, posting cool activities, all to create an image that resembles some celebrity. Who are they going be when they grow up? Their virtual self or the person who unknowingly developed while they were busy creating themselves online? Do they even know what it is to feel awkward, ugly, nervous when they are busy creating their celebrity self? Will they encounter these feelings and overcome them?
My brain can’t take the endless hours with a screen, my eyes hurt, the stories all blur together, the news makes me gag. I get sick from too much screen time. The millennials are inoculated from birth and don’t get sick. At least not obviously. What will happen to these creatures, what kind of humanoids will they turn into? Will they buy houses? They live in a virtual world three fourth of the time, maybe they just need a dry place, a roof. Will they be shoppers who drive the economy or will they photoshop their image with on-line product images and not bother to fill their closets? Will they reproduce or continue to create a new species in their video games? A lot less messy, I can tell you that.
My question is, will they lose the difficult, messy experience that involves taste, touch, movement, and feelings, in the natural world, the experience we call life? I hope not, I am encouraged by the words of the twenty two year old, when he said, “I turn my screen off at least an hour before I want to fall asleep. I want quality sleep.”
Let’s hope they still want to experience a good life.