Imperfection gets a seat at our Thanksgiving table, same as everyone else.”
Dear Members, Companions, Volunteers, and Friends,
In early November, the New York Times published a special section in its Sunday edition on “How to Plan and Cook Thanksgiving.” Normally I would toss the food section to the side since I haven’t copied a recipe since Brother Carl’s cinnamon rolls when I was in college. Although I did copy the Sweet Potato Casserole I make (with a little help from my friends) for our annual Thanksgiving celebration with local members and province staff—which this year included our volunteers serving in the Kansas City area—from my Mom. Cooking in college revealed to me that being a chef was not my career path. Besides, tasting meals prepared by Brother Carl or my Mom or Lucia taught me there is more to making a meal than following a recipe. It has everything to do with passion—the passion to set a table for the communion of souls.
That’s why the opening paragraph in the New York Times’ special section caught my eye and stirred my imagination. “The first rule of Thanksgiving,” Sam Sifton, food editor at the Times writes, “and the best route to happiness in the coming days and weeks: radical acceptance.” Sifton notes how the family feast of Thanksgiving reflects “deliciousness and stress in equal measure, happiness and fear, the possibility of a perfect meal and the reality that…it will always fall a little short. Embrace that. It is all right. It is a fact to be celebrated. Imperfection is an American tradition, too, a hallmark of our democracy.”
Imperfection is also on the menu of what it means to be Precious Blood missionary disciple. So, set a place at the table this Thanksgiving for our imperfect self. Practice “radical acceptance.” Whether it’s on the highway or at the airport in the rush and crush of people, practice radical acceptance. In the kitchen or the family room, practice radical acceptance. Waiting in line at the supermarket or around the table with the relative whose political views clash with your own, practice radical acceptance.
In my family, one of the traditional desserts that was the symbol of imperfection was mincemeat pie, definitely an acquired taste. Mincemeat pie was a staple during the Great Depression because it was made with the scraps of other foods prepared for the feast so that nothing would be wasted. Since my Uncle Red and my Dad died a few years ago, there is always leftover mincemeat pie.
Thanksgiving celebrates our imperfect families, our imperfect meals, our imperfect relationships, our imperfect community, our imperfect selves. So, raise a glass to imperfection and make a toast to the love that has brought us together around the table. Celebrate the perfect love of God that casts out all fear and allows us to see how God draws us near to be in communion with one another. May God continue to bless you, your family and all those you serve each day. I am profoundly grateful for being in your great and gracious company! Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
With peace and gratitude,
Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.