This past Thanksgiving I decided to chuck convention. It's been a road that I have been heading towards for a few years now. It's become increasingly harder for me to dive into the idea of a big, gluttonous feast of turkey and fixings when my diet has become mostly healthy and vegetarian and my family has become so dispersed and insular. It's also been hard for me to justify the expense of the huge meal, or to expect it from anyone else in these economic times. Really, all that aside, I guess I am just turning into a bah humbug over holidays when the very meaning of holidays has seemed to become one big consumer fest of unnecessary food and money outlay. I mean, I am thankful everyday, I don't need one moment to suddenly allow myself to feel grateful or to hang out with my family or to tell people I love them - I already do that on a daily basis.
So this year, I traveled to San Diego where my friend Ian and I spent the wee hours of the morning inside a church kitchen with about twenty other people heating up food for the homeless we planned to serve at Petco Park later in the day. We had Motown music blaring and aluminum pan after aluminum pan of mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, turkey and stuffing heating for about four hours until every last pan was hot and laid into the back of a string of volunteer cars. Watching the food go by, I was becoming increasingly hungry.
At PetCo Park we hung around as many homeless people were fed. The faces of the homeless were different this year. There was a young mother with a baby, a twenty-something year old Hispanic man in a poncho with two huge dogs on leashes as his best friends, an older couple in tourist-looking sweatsuits; point being that the homeless were representative of any-man. Any of us at any given time could easily be them.
Afterwards we decided to spend the rest of the day doing nothing as the concept of doing nothing was something both of us were TRULY thankful for in our unusually busy work-filled lives. Exquisiteness and silent bliss and no agenda were the perfect agenda items for my holiday. Driving home we stopped at Evolution Cafe, where I fell in love with the 100% vegan fast food menu. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries. The burger came on a wheat bun with soy cheese, tempeh bacon and veggie burger and tasted exactly like the bacon cheeseburger of my dreams, which is some fine feat. The fries were sweet potatoes and perfectly carmelized and charred on the outside while mushy on the inside. Topped off with a nice cold Yerba Mate, I was completely content. I wish we had an Evolution in Palm Springs. I would eat one of everything on the menu for a month and still some.
I am thankful that I am learning to change the way I eat, to consider the food on my plate, to respect the concepts of energy usage and waste and that now, even in the fast food world, we are gaining some viable options.