Feeling the Feast
By Anthony Casperson

I guess it’s kinda impossible to avoid the onset of the holiday season. In America, we just celebrated Thanksgiving a couple of days ago. Reminders of feasts and families will abound over the next few weeks. With whatever those things mean to each of us.

As I was thinking about this season, that image of the feast table struck me as interesting. We spend all this time preparing the various traditional foods. Turkeys, or other meats, cooking for hours, with the desire for that picture perfect image. The side dishes all placed in pretty china. The desserts crafted with care to present edible art.

But that’s not the feast table that caused me to pause. Rather, it was the table after the meal.

The table ends up with a mess of food splattered about. The perfectly picturesque main course ripped apart, left with nothing but bone and scraps. Nothing but tatters left of the side dishes, we’re thankful that at least the china survived. And the dessert? Well, that art looks a bit more impressionistic that it once did.

Why did this mess strike me? Why focus on this side of the table? It’s because this aftermath of a feast is far more often the result we experience of the holidays than that Instagram image we share with the world.

We spend far too much time trying to just make ourselves look presentable, hoping no one will see the imperfections. But in the end, we find ourselves torn to pieces by harsh (even if “well-meant”) comments. Our spirits left in tatters, though thankful to have survived. Beauty beaten out of us by the pains of psychological scars.

Some continue to mourn the loss of loved ones who have already celebrated their final holiday. Others suffer alone without family or friends to see their pain. And still others have to endue past pains with their assailants in full view.

Millions of images pervade our view of the pretty feast table, saying that this is what the holidays are all about. Look how beautiful, how lovely, how amazing. Isn’t this time of year so great? But for many of us, this isn’t true. This season makes us feel like garbage, no longer of any use because we have nothing but scraps.

That feeling isn’t true, but we feel it nonetheless. And even more when forced to look happy, told that this is the season for smiles.

Don’t get me wrong, people can be happy during this time of year. Many are. And I’m not asking them to frown with the true joy of the season. It’s the season of compassion, as God sent his Son, enfleshed in humanity, to save the world.

Perhaps this season we should be compassionate more than happy, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep.

Stop making those who don’t fit into the Instagram image of the perfect picture of a feast feel like the garbage of the aftermath. Compassionately come along side and remind that the true perfect picture is the loving God who gives us worth.