The Choices of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is almost here, and I’m all atwitter with anticipation. In celebration, I plan to once again partake in the age-old tradition of gorging myself with an embarrassing amount of food, creating gastro-intestinal problems the like of which are rarely experienced in industrialized countries.
This year my family and I are planning on eating out Thanksgiving Day and are in serious discussion regarding the restaurant we want to go to.
Restaurant selection is a big decision that you don’t want to botch. The main issue, as I see it, is whether you want to be waited on or would rather serve yourself at a buffet.
If you choose to be served, then your greatest challenge, of course, will be your waiter. Waiters are a strange and mysterious group of people who have their own language and moral code, not unlike the ancient Druids or the David Hasselhoff Fan Club. Those attempting to interact with them must be aware that their language and ours do not necessarily mean the same things.
For example, when the waiter gestures toward your empty plate and says, “Can I get that out of the way for you?” he really means, “It’s time for you to go now.”
When a waiter places your check on your table and says, “Can I get anything else for you?” he really means, “It’s time for you to go now, but leave your credit card.”
When a waiter serves your food in a timely manner with a smile on his face, it means he did something gross to your entree back in the kitchen.
Eating at a restaurant with a wait staff has other drawbacks too, like being served by an overworked staff who would just as soon see you choke on a roll than have you ask them for another glass of tea. Because they’re desperately trying to avoid having one more thing to do, these waiters often wait until your mouth is packed like a chipmunk’s before asking if you need anything else.
There’s no way to win in this situation. Your best alternative is to attempt the complicated motor activity of chewing while shaking your head “no.” You’ll most likely wind up looking like a bobble-head doll but that’s infinitely better than the alternative, which is holding up your empty tea glass and saying something like “May ah pweeb haf pum more pea?”
Personally, I would prefer to eat at a buffet, providing:
A] I could get permission to scoot my chair up to the buffet and eat right there instead having to be bothered with all those pesky trips back and forth to and from my table, and
B] There was some type of national standard (or law, if you will) to dictate behavior in the buffet line—namely, just choose a food type, put it on your plate, and move on already. I always get stuck in line behind the guy who weighs each food selection as though he’s making an important life decision.
It’s a buffet! You’re not buying a house. You’re not having surgery. If you make the wrong choice, just come back and get something else! This is America, by jingo, and that’s how we do things here.
Of course, one of the most difficult parts of Thanksgiving is the subtle pressure of knowing that sometime during the day you’re expected to muster up a little thankfulness. And where does this thing called “thankfulness” come from, anyway?
I have found that, just like my TV remote control, thankfulness is easiest to find when I’m not looking for it. It seems that when I concentrate instead on the good things God has placed in my life—my family, my ministry, my Rolls Royce (kidding!), thankfulness comes easily.
The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
I believe God’s hand may most easily be seen in the countless graces we experience throughout each day. When we learn to recognize the author of these good things placed in our lives, then thankfulness is a natural byproduct.
So, when you’re home nibbling on your third helping of turkey and sweet potato pie, think of me at the restaurant, and pray the waiter hasn’t done anything gross to my food.
© 2008 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known Christian comedian and author of I’m Not Crazy, But I Might Be a Carrier (Kregel Publications). Visit his Web site at http://www.charlesmarshallcomedy.com or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org