Teleri (telerib) wrote,

Grandpa's Commandments: Eat

Thanksgiving was always spent at my maternal grandfather's house in Jefferson County, PA. He lived in an honest-to-goodness village - it said so on the sign. There were probably all of twelve houses and three churches, left over from when the place was a booming strip mining town. No street lights, no garbage pickup; hell, no pavement on Stumpy Hollow Road.

One summer, my taciturn grandfather composed his three commandments. The first was: Eat.

He always cooked Thanksgiving dinner. And breakfasts - even if it wasn't made to order. "Eggs," he'd proclaim, setting the fried-in-bacon-grease eggs before you. "Just the way you like 'em." And there was homemade bread for toast, and frozen blackberries - tons of them. I'd have a bowl of blackberries with milk and sugar for breakfast sometimes.

It's good to eat, and it's especially good to eat together as a family. But I think "Eat" goes beyond food. We're conditioned, a lot of us, not to take. Either we don't want to impose, or we don't think we're deserving, or we strive to be self-sufficient. Taking, even something freely offered, shows rudeness, or greed, or entitlement. Or just laziness, that you didn't make it or do it yourself.

Oh, like hell it does. People like to give. People like to feel useful, to help out. People with skills want to use them. My grandfather, who liked to cook, got enjoyment out of seeing people enjoy the food he'd made. So he told us, "Eat." Enjoy. Take. Take seconds. That's what it's there for.

I find it hard to do, especially when what's offered is something I personally don't like to do. If I find it a nasty chore, surely everyone else does, too, right? And I shouldn't ask someone to do what I wouldn't do myself. But that's not true - some things that I find tedious, other people don't mind or even enjoy doing. And visa versa. And even if it is something that nobody likes to do, we can work together on it, or take turns. Even if the turns are separated by days or months or years. We help each other out.

Accepting generosity can be hard. But, the more I try to do it, the more I think that it goes into building friendships and relationships, just as much as being generous does. So eat. Say "Thank you!" And offer to do the dishes.
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