What do white rice and peas have to do with Thanksgiving? They are two of the ten things I can eat. Yep. You read that right. I can only eat ten things. And for people like me who have immune diseases and whose food choices are severely limited, the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, can be a challenge.
(I am getting better and hope I can expand what I can eat soon. I'll write more about my health journey in future articles.)
On the surface, it seems that holidays are all about the food. My Facebook feed is full of recipes and pictures. People I know have been preparing for weeks for their Thanksgiving meals. I used to do that, too—pouring over recipes and spending hours in the kitchen making everything just right.
Having immune issues doesn't mean I can't cook. In fact, I can make anything I want, I just I can't eat it. And cooking without being able to taste it is hard. I never realized before how much I depended on taste testing things to make sure they were "just right." And if I'm totally honest, cooking a whole meal that I can't eat is difficult. Yeah, drooling. 'Nuf said. (*See note below)
So, when I woke up this Thanksgiving morning, I was (frankly) trying to get my thoughts in a right place. Self-pity tried to creep in. Poor Candice. Everyone else you know is going to enjoy stuffing today, and you can't have any, you poor, poor thing.
That got my attention. I despise self-pity. Whining and grumbling only lead to an ungrateful attitude, which doesn't please the Lord. In fact, He doesn't attend a pity party. So, I began to pray. That led to some self-examination and an archeological dig into my past.
Here's a portion of what I discovered:
When I look back on my favorite holiday meals, I don't remember the food—whether I ate bread or cornbread stuffing, pumpkin pie or apple pie, turkey or ham. What I do remember is the people I was with. For instance, when I was little we once celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandmother's in New Jersey. I remember standing next to her in the warm kitchen and feeling loved. Then there was one Thanksgiving when I hosted a bunch of college kids who were far from home. We had a blast playing games and laughing, but I can't remember a single thing I cooked. And then there was the the time I helped serve at the homeless shelter near the Christmas holiday--that'll make you think about priorities and gratefulness. . .
What does this all mean? It means (to be blunt) that stuffing my face with stuffing isn't the important thing. What matters is the stuff I'm stuffing in my brain. How I choose to think, and being grateful, no matter what. And me getting healthy again depends a great deal on having a positive mindset.
Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about, anyway? Positive thoughts? Being thankful? Hey, I can even choose to be grateful for green peas and rice! Salted, with ghee? They're pretty good.
I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with enjoying the preparation and eating of a fabulous holiday meal. In fact, as I recover my health, I expect I'll be able to indulge more in the future. But right now, I choose to concentrate on gratefulness and all the other good things God has put in my life. That will help me get well.
In the meantime, I leave you with this:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 107:1
*And for those who wonder how my husband deals with all of this. . .he eats a lot of the things I do, which are (obviously) very basic. He's VERY supportive! Life right now would be much more difficult if he weren't. But to help make it easier for him, I often make him extra stuff to go with the basics. He also goes out to eat with friends to get his fill of the complicated stuff.