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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The True Focus of the Holidays

Tonight, I watched "Elementary," a modern-day drama of a New York-based savant detective, Sherlock Holmes. In the episode, he's annoyed that his partner wants him to have dinner with his chef brother who's prepared an elegant meal for him. Sherlock asserts to his partner that he detests the idea of an elaborate dinner because "The ritualization/fetishization of food is as an egregious waste of time as I can think of."

Yes, fictional Sherlock, I agree! I've propounded for years that we unnecessarily focus the quality time with our friends and family around food. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Birthdays. Any holiday. Even just getting together to watch a football game is about food. The meal. We spend countless hours planning menus, preparing things ahead of time. Then, when we actually all get together as a family, the meal takes minutes. Maybe half an hour. Instead of sitting around and simply enjoying one another, we (particularly women) spend the majority of our holidays in the kitchen either cooking, serving, or cleaning up.

What if we could simply get together and sit and talk. Share our lives. Enjoy the pleasure of uninterrupted conversation. What if instead of making Thanksgiving and Christmas about the meal we brought in pizza and enjoyed time just talking. Laughing. Being a family.

In many parts of the world, food is a necessity. In ours, it's a luxury. So many go to sleep every night hungry. What if we--those of us who never go to bed hungry, who have ice cream before bed, who get a $4 coffee from Starbucks everyday--sat with our families without the distraction of menus and courses and clean-up and embraced being together. Thankful. Instead of ritualizing and fetishizing food and making it the centerpiece of the time we spend with those we love most, why don't we simply take a step back. Order take out or eat peanut-butter sandwiches and focus on the actual point of this season. It's about family not food.

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