Wednesday, October 02, 2013

How to Use Your Lottery Winnings

That wasn't the subtitle of Babette’s Feast, but that’s how I took it. Let me explain.

There's a backstory (several actually), but here's a very brief outline: The pastor in a village in Jutland had two daughters, who have spent their lives caring for the poor in their village. Now elderly themselves, they take in an impoverished French cook to help them with their work. One day the news arrives: their cook has won the lottery! She desires to use her bounty to prepare a feast for the village, as the centenary of the pastor's birth approaches. The sisters are reluctant, but are won over by their cook's earnest desire.

Babette prepares her eponymous feast. The sisters assume that after this feast is served, Babette will return to France to live in luxury. They are surprised, however, to learn that Babette has spent all her winnings to host this fabulous meal.

Earlier in life, I would have thought Babette ridiculous, but I begin to appreciate Babette's extravagance.

In reality, is Babette brilliantly generous, or imprudently profligate? What do you think? Suppose Babette died the next morning; would that change your thinking?

And what would/should/could I do with my winnings? Because in a real sense, I have won the lottery: my prize is the days that lie ahead. How should I use them? Who should I bless with them? Because I certainly can't take them with me.

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