When Thanksgiving Can't Be About Food

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I'm sure everyone (meaning all the Americans) noticed that Thursday was Thanksgiving day. A day on which we traditionally take time out to recognize how blessed we are by spending time with family and friends.

But I think we all know what the really big thing about Thanksgiving actually is. The thing that immediately comes to mind when someone says "Thanksgiving." 

That's right- the food

I have yet to meet someone who said they didn't love Thanksgiving food, and I am no different.
The Thanksgiving meal has always been a highlight of the year for me. Most of the stuff on the table isn't stuff we eat very often. Turkey is a rarity at our house, and sweet potato casserole just doesn't exist outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plus, you usually don't have to worry about people telling you there are too many starches on your plate.

But what happens when Thanksgiving can't be about food?

As many of you know, I have been diagnosed with something called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS. EDS is a genetic disorder in which your body produces faulty collagen that cannot do its job. 

Because collagen is present all over your body, the symptoms are, too. My joints are unstable and in pain. My blood vessels cannot contract correctly to control blood-flow, which causes me to faint. My skin is slightly more stretchy than normal, and bruises quite easily.

But the most troubling symptoms at the moment are actually all of the stomach issues I experience on a daily basis. Pain, nausea, and lack of appetite are all things I struggle with, plus some other stuff that I'm not going to mention right now.

All of this combined means that mealtimes are especially difficult for me. I almost never feel hungry, and when I do try to eat, every mouth-full is a fight in and of itself. I don't want to eat because when I look at that plate, all I see is that, in about fifteen minutes, I'm going to feel terrible.

I love food, but I don't love eating.

And that's what everyone was doing on Thanksgiving Day- eating. All of my favorite foods were there. The house smelled delicious. The table was set. I really wanted to eat like a normal person does.

But I just couldn't.

At first, it really felt like Thanksgiving had been ruined. I couldn't enjoy the turkey, or the several different kinds of pie. I couldn't eat seconds and thirds of sweet potato casserole. I didn't get to try everything that I wanted to. And I still felt terrible after my little plate of lunch.

I was feeling pretty disappointed. But by the end of the day, I realized that this was actually a blessing in disguise. If I was going to enjoy Thanksgiving, I was going to have to enjoy it for some other reason than just because of the food. 

When Thanksgiving isn't about the food, you have no choice but to make it about something else

Spending time with family is a bigger deal when you can't eat. Sitting around the table talking is more important when food isn't. And you're more thankful for what you can eat when there's more stuff that you can't.

I know the holiday is technically over now, and you're probably preparing for Christmas already, but Thanksgiving isn't just a day- it's a lifestyle. So as the weeks get crazier and crazier, take some advice from William Wordsworth:

"Rest and be thankful." -William Wordsworth


What little things are you most thankful for this season? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below or over at my Facebook page. Additionally, you can now email me at anastasiarosewrites@gmail.com!

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  1. How awful to feel that way all the time, but I love that you were able to see the other more important things about Thanksgiving, such a great reminder to all of us. Thanks! :)

  2. You are so right that it is so often all about the food and I can only imagine how frustrating that must be. It is the little things that really are important and I know I often forget them. I have a chronic illness and I am especially thankful for my support team -- my husband, my therapist, my best girlfriend, my mentor friend, and my big brother friend. That's not exactly a little thing, but it is indeed what I am most thankful for this year because they have been such an amazing support for me time and time again.

  3. It really isn't just about the food, is it?!? I feel for you. My colleagues daughter struggles with eating food too. Your symptoms are much alike.

  4. Anastasia, You have a wonderful perspective on gratitude and thankfulness especially at your young age. I am praying for you now...for your healing so you can eat without feeling ill. Father, do for Anastasia in her body, in her digestive system, what only You can do for her as You know Your design of her body. She is fearfully and wonderfully made, so Father we trust You to bring correction, wholeness and healing in Jesus' Name. Thank You for doing something for her which is beyond all we could think to ask You or even imagine You could do. Thank You for the perspective You have given this young one of yours. How You smile on her, Father, and sing over her with truth! Be glorified Father, be glorified and praised for You are good. Amen!