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Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Sacred Act of Eating...or...Pumpkin Guts Are Gross and Fun

Fall.  My favorite time of year.  There is something delicious about cold mornings, longer evenings and the smell of firewood in the air.  The hot tea tastes cozier, the fuzzy socks feel softer.  The nostalgic yearning for dad’s chili, homemade applesauce and pumpkin flavored latte’s warms the tummy AND the heart.  It’s funny how food can do that.

Food isn’t just something to stop hunger is it?  When you stay home and make chili from scratch, from the recipe that’s been handed down to us from our mom or dad or aunt Constance…it just seems to fill a spiritual need too.  A sense of connection.  We eat at least three times a day, and that’s three times a day we can stop and think about what we’re putting in our bodies.  Nope, this isn’t an appeal to go vegetarian or even to stop eating so much processed foods.

I just think eating isn’t just eating.  It’s also the way we communicate culture, and heritage, when it’s done by someone for someone, it’s an act of love.  Of service.  

When you create a meal for your family, you’re not just making a meatloaf, you’re creating memories, and security.  Some of my favorite memories are doing homework at the kitchen table while dad cooked.  The steam from the boiling water on the window, the smell of sautéed onions, of tomato sauce simmering.  It was cold and dark outside but inside it was warm and cozy, and it smelled delicious.

Sometimes I forget that in the everyday rush.  That’s why writing this blog is so good for me - it makes me step back and look at the bigger picture, to remind me to hold sacred the small things.  The ability and resources to offer comfort in the form of food, in the form of family traditions, to serve them a love-history along with the chili, the home-made chicken soup.

Last week Ellie and I went to a pumpkin patch and picked out a pumpkin.  The lumpiest, weirdest looking one I could find.  Last night we carved it up.  She’s pretty good with a butcher knife!  (ha, ha).

Ellie ‘painted’ one side with a blue marker and I carved the other side.  As I was scooping out pumpkin guts I couldn’t help but think…ew.  This is really gross.  Which is at least 60% of the fun and probably why I look forward to it every year. 

When I imagined having kids, it was these times I thought of, sharing with them the fun and grossness of Halloween.  Letting Ellie mash her little fingers all through the shredded orange goo while we watch Curious George Boo Fest.

And, of course, cooking us a warm dinner on a cool fall night.  Bringing in the cozy when it’s cold outside.  That is the essence of being a parent for me.  Creating a safe and sacred space where we can relax, be cozy, and for a little while, forget the world outside.

That's a lot of pressure to put on a plate of chili isn't it?  Well, good.  Because it matters. Even when we forget how special it is.  Even if we never get thanked for it.  

It's creating a sense of home and family that binds young souls together in harmony.  So, just think of that next time you're crying over your onions.  You're not just making spaghetti. You're building family memories that will last a lifetime.