Love. Revere. Discover. Connect.

November 22, 2009: “When Thanks Are Thin, Thanksgiving Multigenerational Bread Service”

Laws Concerning Food and Drink: Household Principles

‘Lamentations of the Father’ by Ian Frazier

 'Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

 But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

 For we shall judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.'

 Ah Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday and not just because I love to eat, especially desserts, but because it is about family about reminding us of how fortunate most of us really are, sometimes even when we aren't feeling very lucky!

 What I don't want to talk about any more today is Pilgrims! We've covered that. I don't even want to talk about our country and how thankful we should be that we live in the greatest country in the world, because that's really not very fair to people living in other countries, is it? I mean, England and France are pretty good countries aren't they? I bet we could name a lot of others, too. And let's not get started on their health care plans! No let's not talk politics.

 No, the reason I like Thanksgiving is because it makes me think about being thankful - yes even when I don't feel like it.  The holiday itself actually forces me to reflect on my life because I can't celebrate it alone; it must be celebrated with family in some way. Or, should I say, that I have been blessed that I have not ever had to celebrate it alone. That many of our churches now offer the chance to folks with no family close by to celebrate their Thanksgiving at church with their church family and friends!  I share my annual reading of one of my favorite Thanksgiving poems

Rev. Max Coots, Minister Emeritus, Unitarian Universalist Church Canton, NY

‘For a Bountiful Harvest Of Friends’
Let us give thanks for a bounty of people.
For children who are our second planting,
and though they grow like weeds
and the wind too soon blows them away,
may they forgive us our cultivation
and fondly remember where their roots are.
Let us give thanks: For generous friends…with hearts as big as hubbards
and smiles as bright as their blossoms.
For feisty friends as tart as apples;
For continuous friends, who like scallions and cucumbers,
keep reminding us that we’ve had them;
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants
and as elegant as a row of corn,
and the others, as plain as potatoes and as good for you.
For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts
and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes
and serious friends, as complex as cauliflower and as intricate as onions.
For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash,
as persistent as parsley,as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini,
and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter.
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time,
and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils
and hold us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;
And, finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested,
and who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;
For all these we give thanks.
-Rev. Max Coots, Minister Emeritus, Unitarian Universalist Church Canton, NY

 Every Thanksgiving whether things are thick or thin, I reflect back on Thanksgivings past like they were sweet movies and I am always moved to tears because of course the actors are always aging and so many of them are no longer with us. The older we get, the more we appreciate the past, the more we wish sometimes we might have done things differently, treated people in a more loving way perhaps? There's still time in the present, you know, to treat one another more lovingly!

 Every Thanksgiving as I prepare this message I reflect as well on what I have been taught by my family of origin and my biological family. I think of being raised in NH and how my parents Harry and EvaMae worked hard and tried their best to raise us 4 kids and how I think they did a pretty good job, of how Cathie and I have been married for 35 years and have, I think done a pretty good job raising three girls, and how Cristina, Katie, and Elizabeth have done a pretty good job of making me a father!

 I think of the Thanksgiving Dinner as a time of family love and know that not everyone is as blessed, but that there can be alternatives. We must all find them for ourselves. These holiday times are difficult for some of us and it is a time we need one another to get through these times. We must find ways to reach out and help one another. That;s why I'm glad that there will be a Thanksgiving Dinner here at church.

 Most cultures and religions have some kind of Thanksgiving festival from ancient times when it was almost a magical thinking kind of bribe almost.  I want to suggest that thankfulness and praise is not a bribe, but a way of connecting to the universe, a way, actually, of overcoming the ego of selfish-ism and self-centeredness and becoming one with the world and with the Holy and humanity. Thanking people is a way of loving them  that makes them feel appreciated.

 I should thank people more and I always mean to; I don't get around to it. I want to thank the people in church leadership, and  especially, our Director of Religious Education Halcyon Dominski for her help in this and other multigenration worship services and religious education programs among the many other things she does around here, and Ken Franklin, the board President,, Donna VonBoxel the church Secretary, Richard Yukel the Custodian, and other board members and committee chairs  as well as members and friends. Most of all I'd like to thank my wife, Cathie, for her love and especially her patience and understanding over the last 36 years; I cannot imagine my life without you.

 Let us be thankful, let us find the ways to thank one another, and yea, even the universe. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you sll!

Amen, Peace, Shalom, (Peace in Hebrew), Assalaamu Alaikum(may Peace be upon you in Arabic), Abrazos a todos (Hugs all around) Namaste, (A Hindu greeting the divinity within you) Blessed Be, and let me add one more blessing that I adapted from the Spanish long before I went in to ministry. ‘Vaya con Dios’ is Spanish for Good-bye, but literally is ‘Go with God,’ So I adapted it to say ‘Vaya Con Su Dios, ‘Go with your idea or interpretation of God.’

Peace,Love, Shalom,Salaam, Blessed Be,Namaste, Abrazo a Todos,Vaya con su Dios!