In the beginning, all I wanted was to find a place to volunteer at. A soup kitchen to serve a Thanksgiving meal. The atmosphere in the world was angry, tense, disilusioned. It had been only a few weeks since the Eric Garner decision, a few months since Ferguson. I had participated in some of those marches, taking my son out to them, pouring over the news, having “THE TALK” with my son about race and police. After so much time spent trying to metaphorically “destroy the old”, I decided we needed to concentrate some time on “building the new”. My intention was to have Ollie serve in a soup kitchen and start a new family tradition for every Thanksgiving day.
Quickly those ideas were a disapointment. I could not find a soup kitchen that would serve a vegan meal. Because we are an ethical vegan family, we could not face the prospect of having to serve meat in our Thanksgiving. What to do? Do it yourself! And the idea started there. Let us cook a chili, which is nice and warm on a cold day, and let us find people in the city that might want it. And so we did.
I included Ollie in the making of the chili. Cooking is an important aspect of our lives. As I wrote in Facebook the other day: “I am food obsessed. What we eat encompasses the political, the cultural, the biological, the emotional. An art and a science and a flag.” Cooking is also a great teaching tool. There is language and math and physics involved, and even physical coordination. So we enjoy it together, and I included Ollie in the process of cooking this chili.
We went out in the morning on Thansksgiving Day, and within an hour we had given them all out. I had a sea of emotions inside. Gratitude and empathy but also helplessness. What are 20 chilis one day a year? What happens the rest of the year? This is not nearly enough. “We do what we can”… well, I can do better. And I did, and I do.