A few Christian Courier issues ago, my proofreader’s eye caught, with the satisfaction only a proofreader can understand, what I was sure was a mistake. One of our writers used the term “just deserts” in their column. I promptly added my comment that “desserts” was spelled with two “s’s” because I had learned a little trick long ago to remember the difference – desserts are better than deserts and so the word gets an extra letter.
“If you look at things properly, there is no need to wait for the dessert cart. Dessert is everywhere.”
– Merrill Markoey
A few Christian Courier issues ago, my proofreader’s eye caught, with the satisfaction only a proofreader can understand, what I was sure was a mistake. One of our writers used the term “just deserts” in their column. I promptly added my comment that “desserts” was spelled with two “s’s” because I had learned a little trick long ago to remember the difference – desserts are better than deserts and so the word gets an extra letter. Silly, I know, but whatever works, right?
However, I was surprised to discover after conferring with the other editors and doing some research, that this phrase was not originally meant to refer to sweet after-dinner treats at all! Nor was it meant to describe a hot and sandy landscape. In fact, this use of the word “deserts” refers to a meaning that has become almost obsolete – something that is deserved or merited. As in, “being proved wrong was my desert for being so smug about finding a typo.” Because the pronunciation of the word sounds more like the word we use to describe delicious pies and cakes, over time it has become more common practice to spell it that way.
Thanksgiving for what we don’t deserve
As a word-lover who is also interested in human behaviour (and dessert!), I found this phenomenon fascinating – that, over time, what we hear and how we hear it can actually change not only our understanding of a word, but even the spelling of it! A word that once referred to justice deserved has been transformed into a word that describes almost the opposite – abundance, sweetness, more than we need. What a sweet (pardon the pun) reminder of the incredible grace that we can give thanks for this Thanksgiving!
It’s also a reminder to be diligent and careful about the words we take in and their impact on what we believe. Filtering the non-stop stream of words we encounter every day through social media posts, blogs, advertisements, newspaper columns, devotional books, fiction novels and the even lyrics to our favourite songs can be a mind-numbing and daunting task. And although technology and marketing may be new, the need to focus on the right Words is not new. That’s why God commanded his people in Deuteronomy 6 to be intentional about it: “Repeat them [the commandments] again and again to your children.Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The command comes with a promise and a reminder that our Lord has rescued us and blessed us beyond what we could ever do without him and far more than we deserve. He delivered his people from desert to dessert. Now that’s something to be thankful for!
This dessert is festive-looking and fresh. You can use a mixture of your favourite canned and fresh fruit in whatever design you want!