Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thanksgiving, or giving thanks

In which Truffula contemplates that Thanksgiving may really be about giving back...

This year, I'm looking at Thanksgiving in a new light...

While our American Thanksgiving holiday is still a good month off, our German-speaking community celebrated "Erntedank" (literally: thanks for the harvest) last weekend.

As I gathered ideas for Thanksgiving activities for the TruffulaBoyz, it struck me that these centered primarily around taking from the rich array of edible goodies around us and saying "thank you" for them. We were invited to donate non-perishibles to a local food bank, and filled a bag with items to share. Of course, that's all nothing earth-shattering, right?!

Something was missing, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it... How could you go wrong with giving thanks for what you've been given and sharing with those who have less?

My missing link started to emerge... Thankfulness alone doesn't cut it. Unlike in the Grimm's fairy tale, our tables don't spread themselves. That is, fertile soil will certainly produce miraculous harvests for a while. After some time, though, the jig is up, and even the richest soil will wear out.

If however, we support the soil, replacing the necessary constituants -- or better yet, not depleting them in the first place -- then the fields (or plots, or rows, or containers, depending on our scale) can continue to bless us with their gifts.

In other words, if we take, we must necessarily give back. Otherwise, there will be less and less coming forth...

And sure enough, when the TruffulaBoyz and I went out to volunteer at our CSA two days later, one of our tasks was to help spread compost. That compost went onto a field which had sported row upon row of all sorts of tomato plants all summer long. The rows had yielded tomatoes of all colors and sizes, and you should have seen how many went home in each share! Only that morning, the shriveled plants had been removed, their stakes pulled out, and the row-covering plastic taken away.

Oh, how we are thankful for the tomato bounty (especially those Sun Gold cherry tomatoes!), and the other beautiful and tasty gifts the CSA, my own garden, and other sources have given us this past year! And out of that gratefulness, we are also thankful for the rich compost mixed into that naked soil.

With the compost, added shovel by shovel, plowed under, the tomato rows are ready to receive the garlic cloves coming in over the next few weeks.

Sustainable taking requires giving back... supporting the soil which supports us is but one example. Where else can I, can you, can we give thanks just a little differently this year? How can we better support our communities, our friends, our families, and -- dare I bring it up? -- ourselves by returning something to that which keeps the bounty going?


Eco Yogini said...

our Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend. We were spending time with my fiance's family a province away- so it wasn't very sustainable. However, we haven't been on the very best of terms lately- so emotionally and relationship wise there was a lot of giving back and healing.

thank you for the wonderful reminder.:)

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Being a household of 1, I avoided CSAs because I don't want to waste excess produce. I was surprised by your post that there are CSAs where I could get involved. Thanks for that info! I'll be looking for one like that in my area.

knittingwoman said...

eco yogini beat me to it, I was going to mention canadian thanksgiving too:) I went to a family get together but first I took a potluck batch of gingerbread over to the zine library for an event I could only drop by. We have been part of a CSA this year too, ours was an urban one and our house was one of the 2 drop off points.

Green Bean said...

"if we take, we must necessarily give back" - this is the key to living sustainably, I think. I like to think of green living as a form of borrowing. I'm only going to use these resources for a while and then give them back. I've been doing it with the soil but also with giving back to the pollinators by planting flowers they can use for habitat and food. Nice post!

Truffula Mama said...

Eco Yogini + knittingwoman - thanks for the Canadian connection!

The 4 Bushel Farmgal - Go for it! Volunteering with our CSA has been such an education.

Green Bean - green living = borrowing... nice analogy! Taking that one step further, if we return things in better condition than in which we take them, imagine the environmental possibilities!


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