Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Food is Love

Twenty-four years ago when our third child was born we received a special gift that I have never forgotten and that has inspired me all my life.

This birth was the first time that we did not have my mother staying to take care of us for awhile because she lived far away in Oregon (we were in Michigan). Mr. Dirtywrench stayed home from his business for a few days to feed and clothe the two preschoolers we had while I slept and snuggled our new baby. He went back to work when Neal was about five days old and instructed me to not worry about dinner that night assuring me that it would be taken care of. I had many questions that he would not answer which was endlessly frustrating for me.

When Mr. D. came home that night he brought with him an entire home-cooked meal. It came from one of his customers that wanted to do something nice for him and his family. She wanted to be sure that the meal would come on my first day back on duty alone.

This completely blew me away. First of all, I had never met this lovely woman and I was astounded that she would cook for us. Secondly, she did not just send some food, she sent a complete and lovingly-made meal, from salad and entree to dessert.

My mouth remained open in astonishment as I saw how carefully she prepared this feast for our family whom she had never met. Lasagna with no garlic or onion (thinking of a nursing mother and newborn baby), a fruit salad made with homemade yogurt,as well as a vegetable salad, gorgeous bread AND dessert!

It surprised me so because I had never before received or given such a gift. I know that this kind of loving charity is a common tradition when there is a death, birth or sickness in a family, but growing up my family had never received this kind of gift. I had never participated in the giving of such either. I was very deeply touched at the generosity and love of a stranger.

I eventually did meet the gracious lady and it turned out she was a homeschooler, the first one I ever met. She and her husband were both certified teachers in the public school system but they kept their four children at home to teach them.

Over the years we have been the recipients of other meals, most notably when Mr. D.'s father passed away and our home became flooded with lovingly prepared food gifts. We have also received meals when other babies were born, but that first special gift stands out in my memory very brightly for the feelings that it stirred in me. I still get those same feelings of joyful gratitude and amazement when someone cooks for us. I think it is a better gift then money or even flowers. There is so much love in the gift of food.

I have since tried to pass those feelings on to others by doing the same in kind whenever I have the opportunity, as I did today. It gives me joy to know that the recipients are unexpectedly receiving something necessary and comforting during their difficult times.

Have you ever been the recipient or the giver of this special kind of gift? I'd love to hear about it!

I hope this tradition never dies away.



  1. Funny you should mention this now. Just the other day (well, OK, two weeks ago) I was amazed by a food-related gift given with love. New Year's Eve was my parents' 40th anniversary. A good friend of theirs (of not quite 40 years, but the majority of it) recruited two of _her_ very good friends to hold a party for them, their close family, and many old friends. The hostess (chef), the sous-chef, and the sous-sous-chef all had proper aprons and hats and toiled all day and well into the night (and into the start of 2011) to put on the party of a lifetime with homemade bread, several dips, salads, roast pork, salmon, potatoes, vegetables, and several kinds of dessert. The two sous(-sous)-chefs only know my parents peripherally and all chefs are professors and doctor in real life -- not chefs! I witnessed many levels of friendship and generosity that night -- from the friend who undertook to organize this for her dear friends, to her friends who were game to put on this feast with her for her friends, to the old, old friends who came from hours away to spend their New Year's Eve celebrating my parents' anniversary -- and it was the highlight of my trip home to Canada.

  2. Wow! That is a truly wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it! There was real joy all around- joy during the preparation as well as joy during the sharing of the feast. Food is love!

  3. When I had my gallbladder removed (with a 3 month old at home), our next door neighbor made some soups and homemade bread and brought it over to us. It was such a surprise as no one from either of our congregations at the time did that when we had the baby or when I was laid up after surgery.

    We received a variety of home-canned goods for Christmas this year!

    And my beloved congregation here really wanted to throw some sort of shower for this baby... but as a third child, we have most of everything we need. So I've asked that instead we all get together and have a "help me fill the freezer" day. Since I now have a celiac diagnosis, we can't just call up for a pizza or dish up a gifted lasagna (well, the rest of my family can - but the milk-maker is still out of luck). I think that's about the best gift I can think of - a week or so without having to worry about cooking with a newborn at home!

  4. More times than I can actually count - how precious is that? I was on 18 weeks of bedrest with our youngest -with a 4 1/2 year old to keep watch of as well. Our home Bible study brought meals 4 days a week (making sure to prepare enough for plenty of leftovers with each meal) for the 18 weeks of bedrest, and then 6 weeks AFTER William was born. How amazing is that?

    This past year when I was in and out of the hospital so many times - 8 hospitalizations, 30 procedures, two major surgies, and months of complications and recovery following - meals from the church delivered 3 days a week - honestly for at least 6 or 8 months - not sure exactly how long.

    I consider it a great privilege and joy to be able to return the favor!

  5. @MOAB- Every expectant mom should get a freezer full of dinner. It's the best way to prepare for a baby! My friends and I have done that for/with each other quite a few times over the years. The more hands the better too!

    @dina-what an army of angels you have working for you! ;-)

  6. What a wonderful gift to you and your family. When our daughter was born 13 years ago, a neighbor and her daughter prepared an entire turkey dinner for April. I was flabbergasted and so honored that they spent so much time on making a special dinner for us.

  7. They were thinking! Turkey dinner is more then one dinner. Yay for leftovers!

  8. We did not with the birth of our firstborn, but with the birth of our 4 daughters we received meals for two weeks from our loving church family. What a blessing! And I have been able to help out other moms by bringing them dinner too - and then I get to see the new baby!
    One thing I would like to mention ... those last few weeks of pregnancy are when I did not feel like cooking At All! Those are the weeks I Really wished dinner would appear in front of me instead of being made by me :)


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