“The magic of family meal time comes not from the food on the plate but from who’s at the table and what’s happening there. The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless,” said Elizabeth Planet, CASA’s Vice President and Director of Special Projects.
Christmas and Thanksgiving have always been my favorite times of the year: time with family and joyous celebrations. From my 20s on, I lived in California and my family was on the East Coast so I chose Christmas as the time to go East to visit, and spent Thanksgiving with friends in California.
It was always a great day, but there was one very interesting phenomenon that happened most years: everyone was very attached to having dishes from their childhood Thanksgivings. That meant we often ended up with multiple duplicate dishes, just made with different recipes.
I recall a Thanksgiving dinner for 8 that had two large turkeys, four different bowls of cranberries and an assortment of other dishes that could have fed 40. I knew at the time it was because each of us wanted to recapture the magic of our childhood Thanksgiving, but only recently did I start to give it more serious thought.
To me, Veterans Day, celebrated this Monday November 12, just isn’t enough to honor what our veterans have done for this country.
Although I am a pacifist, and was an active anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, I was ashamed of the way our veterans were treated when they returned home.
And I am still deeply saddened by the lack of support and care our veterans receive today.
Yes, war is horrendous, and perhaps if women were running the world there wouldn’t be any wars. But those who did their duty and fought for us deserve better than one day to celebrate them.
THE CURRENT CRISIS IN OUR MILITARY CARE
“In our culture, whenever we receive a gift of food – whether someone buys us groceries or makes us breakfast or takes us out to dinner – we say that it extends our life. And as we accept that food, we breathe a word of prayer so that the dividends of that gift might be multiplied into the life of the person who gave it.” Bear Heart in The Wind Is My Mother
Ceremonial Gift of Food
Viewing food as a gift is one reason that most Native American ceremonies I have attended include a pot-luck afterwards: we are practicing the gift of life extension by feeding one another.
But before the people eat, a “spirit plate” is prepared and offered to either the Ceremonial Fire or Mother Earth. This represents a thank you for all that we have received and a prayer for the continuation of life and that all the nations on earth have enough food and water always.
Many Native American ceremonies also include Spiritual food on the altar. In the Lakota tradition it may be water, corn, berries and meat that are placed on the altar during the ceremony.
They are placed there as a prayer that the Eagle Nation will come and take the essence of that food to the places in the world where there is not enough food or water. So the food on the altar is a prayer that all the Nations have enough to eat.
This Saturday, September 22 at 10:49 a.m. Eastern Time marks the beginning of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a day of balance of the hours of light and dark.
From here, temperatures begin to fall and daylight hours get shorter than the nights. The word equinox comes from the latin words meaning “equal night.”
Since a balanced life is something we all strive for, yet can be hard to achieve, why not set the goal of having the best possible day of balance on the Equinox? Just one day to start with. One day at a time is often the easiest way to make any change.
Here are 16 tips to help you live a day of balance this Saturday:
- Greet the day with a Morning Prayer from The Wind Is My Mother: “I thank you for another day. I ask that You give me the strength to walk worthily this day so that when I lay down at night I will not be ashamed.”
- Thank the sun for its dedication to spreading light on our Mother Earth.
- Drink a glass of water that you have first blessed by saying: “Thank you for this precious gift from Mother Earth.”
- Pray for the well-being of all your family and friends.
- Step outside and take 10 deep breaths, inhaling through your nose, exhaling through your mouth.
- Eat a nutritious breakfast.
- Do some clean up work around the house or yard.
- Eat a nutritious lunch.
- Call a friend.
- Read a book.
- Take a nap.
- Eat a nutritious dinner.
- Have fun with friends or family.
- Evening prayer from The Wind Is My Mother: At the end of the day, face west and say: “Thank you for all the things that happened today, the good as well as the bad.”
- Go to bed by 11 pm and have a good night’s sleep.
To me, that is a very good day of balance. Now the best part: Repeat it the next day, and the next and the next.
And a generally good proposition for living a life in balance:
- balance work with play,
- periods of rest with periods of activity,
- intellectual pursuits with creative ones,
- alternate reading non-fiction and fiction.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Notwithstanding my love of my I-phone and other I-things, I am an old-fashioned girl at heart. For as long as I can remember, my food-related motto has been, “How my grandmother ran her kitchen is good enough for me.”
I have never owned a microwave. Native Americans teach that it kills the spirit of the food.
Even before hearing of that teaching, it intuitively felt wrong to put food in it. We even use the phrase “nuke it” – I rest my case with that statement.
Our society has become so dependent on microwaves that some foods come only with microwave instructions. I recently bought a spaghetti squash with a label for microwave cooking — no other cooking instructions. I was grateful to have a pre-microwave edition of The Joy of Cooking to tell me what to do with it.