The other day my daughter and I were talking about her friends. She says that most of the time, she has to tell her friends to eat, that it’s okay to eat, or that they need to eat. Her friends don’t understand why she is seemingly obsessed with food and eating. She thinks this is funny, because to her, they are obsessed with not eating.
Let me explain. Because I totally get it and why they have opposing views about food. It’s how she was raised. It’s how I was raised. Our family life centers around food. Okay, well, maybe it doesn’t center around food exactly, but food it so much intertwined with what we do–no matter what it is.
For instance, if one of us is getting a headache, it’s because “you need to eat.” If we’re celebrating a birthday, it’s “what do you want for your birthday supper?” If someone wins something, graduates from something, or gets a raise, we go out to eat. If someone is sad or had something bad happen to them, we go get ice cream. When it’s bedtime and anyone is having trouble sleeping, it’s “go get a little something to eat so you can sleep better.” When we come home from school or work, it’s “have an after-school snack” or a “little something before supper.”
When we’re getting ready to go shopping or know we’re going to be out for more than an hour, it’s “better eat something before we leave the house.” If we have to do some housework or chores for any length of time, it’s “let’s eat something before we start.” (All right, that one might just be pure procrastination, but we choose food as the means to which to procrastinate.) For Christmas, I often bake things to give out as presents. I use to spend days making up goodies to box up and give to my siblings and their families, and they always looked forward to that box!
My son’s friends are dumbfounded whenever they come over because I always make food a part of their visit. Once, my son had a couple of friends over and I had said I would barbecue some hot dogs for them. I’m sure they thought there might be some chips and something to drink along with those hot dogs. But I know they weren’t expecting the corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, crudites and dip, homemade cookies, and cucumber salad to be spread out on the table, too!
Another time, his best friend was coming over to spend the day, so I wanted to make sure they had plenty to eat. I made homemade pizza for lunch, rice crispy treats for a snack, and fed them the enchiladas and rice I had made the day before for supper — before I gave them some cake and ice cream. I even made his friend take home some cake.
Food is love. It’s how we show our love, our emotion, our togetherness. I have many happy memories of going down to the local Sonic when the kids were younger and just sitting there in the car, our feet hanging out the window, listening to the music Sonic always plays while sipping a yummy ice cream drink and eating corn dogs. The summer winds would usually be blowing, and we’d laugh and talk while just enjoying the weather, the casualness of the day, and our precious time together. The kids can recall those same memories. Many times, I would pick the kids up from grade school for lunch (they hated eating in the school cafeteria because it was always so noisy) and drive to the park where we would pop the back of our van open and sit there eating a lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn (Grandy’s, why did you ever leave town?! We loved your food!). The trees were so big and would blow in the wind, while people walked their dogs or parent’s were hanging out with their young ones by the swing set and the slide.
So, to my daughter, getting together with your friends is a very good reason to eat and to show your appreciation for each other and to share your love for one another. I mean, why not? We’re not gluttons about it, and none of us is obese. We don’t abuse food or how we eat it. We use it as a part of our celebration of life and living. It makes us feel grounded and centered and all “homey.”
Maybe that is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Actually, we make food a big deal at every holiday!
My daughter’s friends asked her why she is always telling them “eat!” She said, “Because it’s what we do in my family!”