Having a thankful mindset is a quality for which we should all strive, but to me, possessing true gratitude goes deeper. Oftentimes, gratitude comes through life experiences, and gratitude and food frequego hand in hand. 

Food and eating touch on all of our senses unlike any other. The aroma, the taste, the beauty, the texture and even the sound of food cooking often create memories that last a lifetime. I remember from my childhood the smell of chicken frying on Sunday at my grandmother’s house. The memory of the flavors of the meal complete with extra crispy chicken, au gratin potatoes, overcooked green beans with bacon drippings, and cornbread soaked in butter melding in my mouth will be with me forever. While the food experience was one that made an impression and is one that I am thankful for, it was the time and love that “Grandmom” put into the meal that made me develop a deep sense of gratitude for the experience. The table dressed with her white tablecloth topped with cloth napkins, her best china, silverware, and glassware created the ambiance of a special event. More than anything, though, the time with the family members around the table enjoying the experience together still stirs feelings of comfort, happiness, love, and….gratitude. 

This year has been one none of us will forget. It has been filled with stress and heartache, but the opportunities to create positive moments and experience gratitude on a deep level still abound and actually may be simpler. While time seems to be oddly passing very quickly, there is a slowness that has settled in as well. That slowness has gifted me with what seems to be extra time to focus more carefully on important details in life. Through doing this, I have gained or regained an appreciation...a gratefulness… for aspects of life that matter, but are often neglected or overlooked, and I am happier for it. 

An article published in Harvard Health Publishing states, “With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves.” The article goes on to say, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” 

When we take a moment to consider all that has gone into a food item or meal before we enjoy it, we can begin to experience gratitude for it at a deeper level. Additionally, to think about all of the nutrients and energy the food will provide for us helps us to understand that there’s much more to it than just satisfying the hunger. Our food truly keeps us alive. 

One of my hopes as we push through the remainder of 2020 is that we can develop a sense of gratitude that penetrates deep within our being, not only where food is concerned, but in all areas of our lives. I also hope that we can learn to express our gratitude and graciously acknowledge from where our blessings come.