I recently read this article in Newsweek and was reminded of the word conviviality. Thanksgiving is fundamentally the American convivial event. The word is derived from the Latin word convīviālis which refers to feasting or festivals. Or to live together, dine together. Such a simple meaning. Such a simple act. Such a challenging way of life. As you have probably gathered from reading this blog, karma in the kitchen for me is really mostly about the community that is gathered around the meal. The people that help grow and prepare the meal. The voices and stories shared when breaking bread. Eating is important, but the truly meaningful act is sharing time with those most important to you.
This Thanksgiving I reflected on the people who shared my table. Family members who continue to demonstrate that conviviality is much more than an annual meal, the idea of living together suggests a closeness, a sense of responsibility of extending hands in support and love. This year the faces were the same, but the situations were different. Lost jobs, new hobbies, new marriages, challenges, opening doors. Memories circle of those who are no longer present at the table. Again, hands are offered in support to those still grieving. Life’s challenges find support, children begin to care for elders. Remembrances are spoken for family members in far-flung states unable to join us. Broken relationships still cause pain and remind us of the words we said and actions that we cannot undo. We celebrate new marriages which bring new voices and stories to our table. New puppies circle our ankles, and children’s laughter fill our ears. We tell stories of new jobs. We sing for birthdays. We laugh. We pray. We give thanks. We hold hands. Tears form in our eyes. And still, we live together. In pain. In celebration. As family.
And still I think about the other members of my family. Those who have joined my family through working together, being neighbors, meeting in school. Those friends who are indeed my family. We share our lives with many and for this, I am truly grateful. My day of thanks cannot be complete without thinking of those who have joined our lives by choice. Who have offered their homes, their time, their conversation, and insights. Friends who have chosen to join us when we grieve. Friends who have wiped the tears from our eyes, who have answered the phone at 2:00 am. Those who offer laughter. Friends who share experiences and memories. While you were absent from my table yesterday, you were never far from my thoughts. Thanks for you.
Today, I feel challenged to think about conviviality daily. How can I best live together with those I love? What does it look like to live the ideals of America’s thankful holiday in my everyday relationships? How do I mend broken relationships? How do I continue to show my gratitude and support to my friends and family?
I welcome the challenge. I hope you find a way to convivial live with your family and friends.