Last week, my husband and I drove to my sister’s house in Florida to be with family for Christmas (the computer never left the computer bag, hence, no post). We like to eat in my family, so food was discussed beforehand and I was toting a ham, a cabbage that weighed more than a newborn baby, three butternut squash, and the accompaniments for all three.
Other people pack bathing suits.
As might be expected, when you throw 12 strong personalities into a room, the best-laid plans go awry. Meals were late, there wasn’t always enough ovencounterrefrigerator space to get things done, someone didn’t like that so was there something else to eat? I hauled the cabbage and the rest of the recipe ingredients back to New York with me, but everything else was used. And we had a great time being together, building crazy-looking gingerbread houses, going on a monster-truck tour of a citrus grove, coaching my oldest niece through preparing a meal for ten (when I was her age, I was putting rosemary in chili; she’s waaaay more savvy…), sitting around the long table and talking.
Because it isn’t really about the food. My sister-in-law and niece were talking one day about the different ways people show love, and how feeding others is one way. This is true: if I love you, or even just like you, one of the ways I show it is by feeding you. While I want what I serve you to be delicious, what I really want is for you to feel cared for and to spend time with you around the table. It is easy to get caught up in the failure of a recipe or the break in a time line, and to be upset that what you’re trying to do just is not working out.
Remember that the next time your soufflé doesn’t rise, or the chicken takes forever to cook through, or the cake falls in the middle. It isn’t about the food. It’s about the nourishment we get from being with people who love us. Order a pizza, crumble the cake into a trifle, and enjoy your time together.