Beverly Knauer lives in beautiful San Diego, California, and began low carb in the 1970's. She's taken
several detours from the LC path during the years only to come back to it, realizing it's the only way
she wants to live.
Beverly is Chief of Rehabilitation Services for a California Children Services, and is currently
writing a book for children.
"Blessed is the season which engages
the whole world in a conspiracy of love."
— Hamilton Wright Mabie
It's always special when it's my turn to host the holiday meal.
Normally, I am eager to indulge in all the planning, shopping,
and cooking needed to produce a lavish holiday bounty. And this
year was looking to be no exception. Warm memories washed over
me as I perused the tattered, hand-written recipes from my mother;
every card splattered with chocolate batter from the day my sister
and I made a cake.
But this year I hit a snag. After grocery shopping, I noticed the
clerk had tossed a meal — planning booklet into my grocery bag. As
I thumbed through the pages, attempting to glean some special
menu-planning tips, a sensation of apprehension hit me. A tip
I read in the booklet triggered my reaction:
- Call all guests ahead of time to learn about any dietary
limitations such as
special diets or food allergies.
The customary holiday meal I was planning suddenly became a source
of concern. Since I was following a low-carb eating plan, I assumed
I would be making some of our traditional holiday foods along with
some special low carb dishes. But now that I thought about it, I
remembered that mom and dad were both following a low-fat regime,
Aunt Margaret was on a diabetic plan, my friend Ruth was a vegetarian,
Mick was allergic to nuts and shellfish, and Grandpa Jack was just a
picky eater! What menu could I create that would satisfy such diverse
For weeks, I poured through cookbooks and Internet sites looking
for recipes that would appease all of my guests' dietary needs.
Frustrated from writing down and tossing out multiple menus, it
occurred to me — I was losing sight of the real meaning of the holiday meal.
By pressuring myself to plan the perfect event, I had allowed my focus to
deviate from the purpose of the holiday feast, which is simply breaking
When people today speak of "breaking bread", they are talking about the
experience of eating; however, the meaning of the term relates back to
Biblical times, when it actually was about the physical act of breaking
bread. There were no forks or knives, so people ate with their fingers.
They joined together in camaraderie as they feasted. The bread was shared
as it was passed around the table, and the participants literally broke
off chunks to eat.
Now we live in an era of fast food, and families have difficulty finding
the time to break bread together. People eat "on the go" — often alone,
and even while driving in a car. We grab quick foods like diet shakes and
bars, and quickly consume frozen dinners prior to dashing Janie off to
dance class. Sometimes daily time constraints make it difficult to remember
that sharing meals can do much more than just feed a physical hunger.
The sharing of food is the very essence of community. And the holiday season
allows us a moment for coming together and breaking bread. We eagerly
anticipate feasting with family and friends, and all those traditional foods
that symbolize the things we value most. Holiday celebrations bring food,
family, and friends together, illuminating our profound desire for human
fellowship and union.
No celebration is complete without the act of sharing food. The breaking
of bread is important to virtually all celebrations around the world.
Imagine a wedding without sharing cake, Thanksgiving without sharing turkey,
Hanukah without sharing latkes. It is the act of partaking of those foods
with family and friends that is so important.
Meal times are an opportunity — an occasion to unite. Breaking bread together
can be a soulful activity, with the potential to satisfy our deepest longing
for connection with our fellow human beings. It is an act woven through the
ages into the tapestry of our lives.
For many years, I have been eating the same traditional holiday menu. There
are certain foods or meals that I associate with people who have been significant
to me. Favorite foods we feast on through the years become symbolic of the people
no longer physically with us at our gatherings — they seem to appear in spirit
every time we bite into Gerty's world-famous butterhorns, or sip Grandpa's
famous eggnog punch.
Even those people who are unrelated become family when we share a table. When
people eat together, there is an intimacy in that communion. We invite people
into our lives when we ask them to our tables, and the food we share then becomes
a sign of our commonality. While sharing the feast, we take the threads of
diversity and weave them into one tapestry where we all belong together. Joy
is amplified and sadness subsides when we share. A meal together seals our intent
to be community.
Placing emphasis on mundane worries can destroy the essence of what is truly
important in planning a holiday meal. Anguishing over the fat content of the
food, or worrying if we can accommodate all the different dietary restrictions,
or fretting that the dinner plates don't match, keeps us from focusing on the
soulfulness of sharing the food.
I resolved my holiday dilemma by inviting people to bring a dish to share from
their special food plan. This way, everyone had something they could eat, and
I could round out the menu out with traditional favorites. I also made a large
loaf of homemade bread (low carb, of course) to pass at the table to symbolize
the act of breaking bread. As each person broke off a chunk, they shared about
a special meal that they had sometime in the past. Breaking the bread fed our
spirit as well as our flesh.
During this holiday season, I am going to put emphasis on each celebratory meal
as a means of reaffirming the ties we have to each other, and to our community.
It is both physical bread and spiritual bread that will sustain us. The mission
will be for each guest to leave with a sense that they've been nurtured and
nourished in a way that goes beyond just a full stomach and fat–free gravy.
The food will be there to feed the physical hunger — the act of sharing will
be there to feed the soul.
Copyright © December 2003 Beverly Knauer and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
New for the Holidays at Low Carb Connoisseur
Russell Stover Low Carb Assortment Gift Box!
Give a gift that shows you really care...
Russell Stover now offers their delicious
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all your favorites — Pecan
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Be sure to checkout our other Low Carb Holiday Gifts and Gift Baskets!
"Chocolate Lover's Delight," "Emeril Sauces & Seasonings," "Pampered Lady" Bath and Beauty Basket. Plus much, much more!
Low Carb Connoisseur — we put the Dash in Low-Carb.com!