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There it sat. The last piece of pie was sitting in the pie tin, literally screaming my name. I longed to reach out and put it, and myself, out of misery. I remember this scene every Thanksgiving of my youth. Typically, the last piece of pie would be saved for my uncle or another older male family member. As the oldest of three girls and the eldest grandchild, I had to set the example of manners, consideration, and orderly respect for the other siblings and cousins. Oh, the pain and responsibility! This was one of the cultural traditions of my family. Your family most certainly has its own unique customs that color each member’s celebratory gathering experience.
The last piece of pie took on a completely different meaning as the years passed, and I became a pie maker. It was a subtle, unnoticed transformation that occurred naturally—watching someone else enjoy the last piece of pie became a pleasure rather than a pain. I experienced the satisfaction of contributing and the joy of gifting rather than the juvenile sense of being denied. I smile at the life lessons and memories of early Thanksgiving gatherings. As children, we do not often have the natural propensity to understand the significance of self-restraint and relegation. The attributes that grow from such disciplines take time to cultivate and may be accompanied by self-awareness, self-control, patience, and consideration.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22
Yes, our perspective changes when our purpose changes. My objective as a child was to eat the pie. It did not occur to me that someone who had worked to make that pie a reality might prefer to have it themselves. To me, the pie had just magically appeared. Now, as a hostess, I understand the effort that goes into creating a pie, and my joy increases in offering the last piece to another. Presently, my mind and heart are weighed down with mourning as we come to the one-year mark of the loss of my father and our Lord welcoming him into heaven. You see, my father would always refuse to have the last piece. His way was to give it to the person who offered him the last piece, or he would present it to another who was close by. As a child, his way confused me but instilled wonder in me. As an adult, I’ve grown to understand my father’s self-restraint and relegation as a position of strength and humility. I will miss that replay in my holiday celebrations this year and every year.
I have decided to carry forth my father’s way and instill confusion in the children in my family. With any luck and a few sprinkles from heaven, perhaps my daughter and her future children will do the same. Kindness and consideration go far and can mean so much. My daddy learned his way from his eldest sister who, all her life, set aside one-half of her evening sandwich for another. Self-restraint and discipline: we can all use more of that.
With sincere gratitude, I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.
Until next week!
Dr. Marie Yvette Hernandez-Seltz is the founder of Candescent Counseling, Consulting & Coaching. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She has spent the past 15 years studying self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, and the effects of environment and culture on the individual.