When I picked up my kids from daycare on Tuesday, my daughter presented me with her daily art project as she beamed with excitement.
It brings me great comfort to know that when I can’t be with my kids that they are in a place where they can learn and grow and take such pride in learning something as simple as “T is for Turkey.” Even at the tender age of three.
Believe me when I say that this lesson in honor of Thanksgiving is very cherished, but bear with me as I share why this simple project was so humorous to me:
We don’t eat meat.
Not that I didn’t see this moment coming; I have actually been writing and re-writing what was to be my pre-Thanksgiving entry in which I shared (ad nauseum) my many day dreams of what my kids might say and do once they entered the world of the local public schools and were introduced to the arts, crafts, and inevitable fairy-tale lessons of the first Thanksgiving Feast.
One of my more elaborate visions included my precocious daughter announcing to her classmates that some poor baby turkey was now walking around motherless and that the table cloths at the first Thanksgiving Supper were probably small-pox infested anyway.
Of course, at three, my daughter hasn’t quite made the connection that the reason we say “T is for Turkey” is because most people in our culture find those turkeys just so irresistibly yummy.
We find ourselves doing an interesting dance this time of year; deliberating between different ways to lift up our lifestyle choice while still honoring others who choose differently out of principle or simply because of circumstance (because, let’s face it, a vegetarian diet is a privilege).
I don’t want my kids to look down upon others who eat meat, nor do I want them to choose to eat meat merely because they feel as if there is some great magical holiday moment that occurs the second the turkey enters your mouth (surely there must be fireworks displays and a chorus of angels that sing upon digestion).
I totally expect that one day my children will want to try meat, and they will be able to do this with our blessing; there may even come a time when my kids decide that vegetarianism is just not for them and I want them to feel good about that too.
The fact is that we can have conversations all day long about why we are vegetarians and how we came to make this choice (although, this conversation at the Thanksgiving table brings with it the risk of turning your light-hearted family function into a bad SNL skit ala Debbie Downer.). But at the end of the day, this is who we are and this lifestyle suits us and our Principles best.
(At Right: Even vegetarians can do “meat” and potatoes… chickpea cutlets! Maybe I DO hear that chorus of angels… )
So let’s laugh about our differences, drink a glass of wine (a vegetarian delicacy in my book), and remember that we have more in common than we have ideals that separate us.
I, for one, am thankful for that!