A report on the two-bite Thanksgiving challenge

Before Thanksgiving, I said in this space I would eat only two bites of everything at my family’s traditional meal. And I did just that. 

I so rarely complete a project or a resolve or an intention that I’d like to start there in my rejoicing. I did it, or as my grandson Caleb, age 5, would say, “You did it! You did it!  You did it!” He is obviously hyperbolic -- and what a terrible thing to be hyperbolic on behalf of minimalism.

This is not a report card, rather just a report. Let’s call it personal accountability.

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I ate two bites of turkey, with gravy, two bites of smashed potatoes, with gravy, two Brussels sprouts, two teaspoons of cranberry/orange salad, two teaspoons of salad.

At pie time, luckily, I didn’t really like all the pies. One was sweet potato/apple, another pumpkin, and the third, a last minute apple event that absolutely sang. I had said I would have a third of a piece of each pie, giving myself a whole piece of pie, but by that point in the meal I was already full and only liked the apple. I liked it so much, though, that I almost went for more than two bites of it, but a promise is a promise.

Had I gone to gobble, I would not have done Thanksgiving differently. It would have been the same more than I need; instead, the two-bite approach was just what I needed.

So what if I were to continue in a new practice throughout the holidays? What if the call to less as more could become more of a practice instead of an experiment?

The experiment worked quite well. I was sated. I was not hungry. I felt better after the meal. I felt that I really enjoyed what I ate rather than finding myself in shoveling or gobbling mode. There were no downsides that I could remember.

Beyond the practical, I felt a small victory over the metaphor of the too-muchness. I felt like I was thankful for my enough without having to bear the burden of the extra. I felt more green than grateful. I felt less like a pilgrim and a land stealer, and more like a human. I felt like I was the right size.

So why wouldn’t I continue? Because backsliding is my bent. Because I’ve been over-eating at Thanksgiving for 67 years. Why stop now? Because I might get lonely.

Let me tell you the story of the apple pie. It turned out that the people we thought would bring the apple pie forgot their assignment and came without one. It was noon, and blast-off time was 2 p.m.

My 32-year-old son, who was hosting, had never baked a pie before. He thought of going out for apples, which would have been a heightened inefficiency. I then remembered I had an apple with me. It turned out other people also had apples rolling around in their luggage and purses and backpacks. That excess totaled three. 

In the bottom of my son’s hydrator pan, there were quite a few half-dead, dimply apples. These were maybe a dozen golden delicious. Mine was a gala. The other extras were Macintosh. 

Fifteen apples are plenty for a pie, plus the delicious goldens were on their way to the compost. My son said he would make a piecrust, and I behaved skeptically. 

“Isaac, you have never baked a pie before.” 

He went to the computer, opened his food processor, and in about six minutes had two perfect piecrusts. He and his friend, who had forgotten the pie, put together a gorgeous one left over from leftovers, aided by computers and moxie. 

I know less about not over-doing and over-eating than Isaac knows about making pie.  Thus I make no promises for Christmas or next Thanksgiving now. Just an intention to lean into what I don’t know -- and how much I like about it.

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