What to buy, how to sell, where to go and what to do have seemingly popped up as hidden amendments to the hallowed rules our forefathers left for us more than two centuries ago.
That ever-growing list is dangerously close to the addition of the heart and soul of anyone from the South — what to eat.
Before my friends in the health care profession get too upset, I will post the disclaimer that everyone should be responsible with their dietary choices and indulge in fats and sweets with a degree of moderation.
But tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It is the day we not only give thanks for our bounty, we partake of it in generous and numerous portions.
It is a meal that is always full of grease, fats and sweets and would surely fail most any test for good health.
So it makes me wonder what would happen if a meal such as most of us will enjoy tomorrow became ruled unacceptable in our society for safety reasons.
I can imagine a family at Grandma’s, seated at the table as the matriarch of the family begins to carry the golden brown turkey to its place of significance at the dinner table.
Then, there’s a knock at the door.
“Grandma, I’ll get it,” says an excitable 5-year old boy as he runs to grab the doorknob.
The boy opens the door to be greeted by the sight of a tall man dressed in a trench coat and hat, flashing a badge of identification the youngster doesn’t understand.
“Is the owner of the house at home?” he asks.
“Grandma!” the youngster shouts. “It’s for you!”
Grandma places the turkey down and greets the uninvited visitor.
“May I help you?” she says with her sweet-spirited voice.
“Ma’am, I am with the Department of Nutrition and we detected the scent of foods that are listed as harmful coming from this residence,” the man says with a stern tone.
“I am afraid you are suspected of providing harmful products to your family.”
Those at the table jump to their feet and begin shouts of protest, but Grandma turns and quietly shushes them.
“Sir, I can assure you there is nothing I would ever do to harm the people at that table,” she says.
“Well, I need to come and take a look around,” the man says.
“Of course,” Grandma says. “You are more than welcome to join us.”
The man looks at the dishes on the table — filled to the rim with everything a Thanksgiving dinner is traditionally filled with: enough gravy to float a boat, mashed potatoes with a cube of butter the size of Iowa, enough cranberry sauce with which to mold a parade float and homemade rolls soft enough to replace any teddy bear.
“For the most part, these foods are OK,” the man said. “But it’s all the extra ingredients you add to them. All that butter and cream and sugar is just not healthy.”
“I’m sorry,” replies Grandma. “I’ve made this meal every year and it was made before me by my mother and grandmother. They’ve not hurt any of us yet.”
“That doesn’t matter,” the man says just before he turns to see the dessert table.
“Ma’am!” he says with a tone of alarm. “There’s enough sugar and rich foods on that table to put you away for a long time.”
The family once again leaps up with loud protests only to be hushed again by Grandma.
“Sir, there is something you have not noticed in all you have observed,” Grandma says in a calm and metered voice.
“It is true, all these things you say about the ingredients of what we are having in this meal. But we don’t eat this way every day,” she tells the man. “In fact, we are blessed to be able to do this at least once a year.”
“Doesn’t matter,” the man says. “Once is enough to be harmful.”
“There is an ingredient you haven’t considered. It’s the one that goes to the store and spends most of the day picking out what it takes to make this meal,” Grandma begins as she reaches for one of those fortified, compartmentalized paper plates.
“It’s also the ingredient that gets up early in the morning and spends most of the day in a hot kitchen bouncing from oven to stove to refrigerator,” she continues spooning turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes into the plate.
“It’s the ingredient that watches a bunch of younguns wrestle to lick a spoon or help stir a pot,” she continues as she cuts a piece of pumpkin pie.
“The ingredient you are overlooking is also a long-proven cure for many ills of all kinds and much stronger than all the ones you call dangerous,” Grandma tells the man as she wraps the plate with aluminum foil.
“That ingredient is love,” she tells the man. “I love my family. I don’t do this just for me to eat. This day is not just about the meal. It’s about that love we have for one another. What you may not understand is this food would not taste half as good if we weren’t all together to enjoy it.”
Before the man can make any comment, he finds that aluminum foil-wrapped plate is in his hands filled to the brim with a mini-Thanksgiving feast.
“Are you trying to bribe me?” the man asks with a hesitation not present until this moment.
“No,” Grandma says. “I was just taught a long time ago to love everybody. I know you’re just doing your job. But you ought to be with your family doing what we’re doing. I just want to share our joy with you.”
The man stands stoically quiet. For the more observant, his eyes begin to water — not to tears — but enough to show an emotion just almost breaching the surface.
“Take that home to the ones you love,” Grandma said. “Love is the one thing that no one can take away.”
The man gives a simple nod and turns toward the door.
“Hope you enjoy that and God bless you!” Grandma says in a final yell.
The man turns back to acknowledge the good wishes and hesitantly begins to speak.
“A piece of chocolate pie would be really good,” he says.
Almost instantly an entire pie appears in the hand he has free.
“Thank you,” he says.
“No,” Grandma says. “I am not the one to thank. Give thanks to God — especially on this day.”
“Yes ma’am,” he answers “I will indeed.”
And so should we all.