The Common Good

On Thanksgiving Day, Not Everybody Worries About Overeating

The first thing I thought about when I opened my eyes Wednesday morning was my Aunt Malena's pound cake. She's planning to co-host a bigger-than-usual family feast in Jackson, Miss., and I woke up hopeful that in the midst of her planning, she wouldn't forget to make that cake of hers. My father has been asked to make a banana pudding, and, knowing him, he will make sure I know he made it, make sure I have some, and hang around to hear me compliment him.

Despite what I said about my aunt's pound cake, I'm not anticipating all that food as much as I am fearing it. I've got to be a little more conscientious about my diet than most people my age. Doctor's orders. So whether it's a holiday feast, a birthday party, a funeral repast or a meal in a church fellowship hall, I spend more time avoiding food than enjoying it, more time worrying that the food may be harming me than giving me nourishment.

Before he spoke at Dillard University last month, the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners Magazine, recalled talking to another clergyman worried that the food stamp program creates dependency.

Wallis' response: "Did you know that 72 percent of people who get food stamps are families with somebody in the household who's working? Working families with children who don't make enough to feed their children? And they're on it (on average) for 9 or 10 months."