For years, I dreaded the holiday season. Spicy smells, muted hues, constant company, edible traditions all made me nervous—and not the “I can’t wait for Christmas” kind of nervous. It was more like, “How on earth can I escape this madness without gaining an ounce?”
One specific year, I recall we went to my aunt and uncle’s house in Missouri. Our family of six combined with their four and my grandparents made for a snug situation. The weather was perfectly autumn. One of the first chills pinched the air, the sun played hide-and-seek with the clouds, the lawn was toasty-brown.
At 15-years-old, I should have been giddy with excitement, the first to initiate a game of flag football. Instead, I huddled miserably in the corner and conjured up a sore throat. “If I’m sick,” I reasoned, “no one will make me eat.”
I was prepared for this, even packing cans of low-calorie, broth soup in my suitcase. “See, I’m eating,” I planned to say. “I’m trying to be good; I just can’t handle turkey, dressing and pie with a sore throat.” At the time, I was faking it. I didn’t realize that I could literally talk myself into being sick. Before I knew it I was certifiably miserable.
My sister did grab a football and everyone but me formed huddles in the back yard, blew steamy cold breaths and worked up an appetite. They came in voracious, more thankful than ever for hot chocolate, gooey sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
Sticking to my story, all gratitude in my heart faded dingy and gray. I could see nothing to be thankful for. I was miserably trapped in my own mind, constantly disgusted with my body, living on defense against everyone who cared about me and oh, so very lonely. I was anything but thankful.
I wish that story had a happy ending. It doesn’t. I barely survived that holiday season as the pathetic narrative replayed itself on Christmas Day at my grandparents’ house. Nothing could pull me away from my deadly love/hate relationship with the idea of complete control.
But this year, I truly am a different person. As Paul says, “The old has passed away and the new has come.” And as I’m counting down the days until I’m sitting on the floor in my sister’s house, sniffing the spicy aromas and cuddling my nieces, this verse came to mind:
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5
Did you catch that? Thanksgiving is not merely a day, it is a solution to our hopelessness. Nothing—even food—is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. Yes, even food, is made holy through thanksgiving to the God is the giver of all good things. (James 1:17)
Afraid to Eat, video
Freedom from Anorexia, Freedom to Have Fun, by Abby Kelly
Family Nagging Me to Eat, video