After a trip to the grocery store and the farmer’s market, my cupboards and refrigerator are heavy laden with food to be prepared for Friendsgiving this week.
As the holidays approach, I am reminded that feeding people is a labor of love for me. It’s one of the ways I take care of myself, and one of the ways it makes me feel good to take care of others.
I’m like my Grandma Julie in that way. I suppose the grandmother who likes to feed everyone is sort of a cultural cliché, but I like to think it’s because they are old and wise enough to understand how important it is. Or perhaps that the act of aging causes one to focus on the body and its needs in a way that younger generations do not.
Whenever we came to visit Grandma Julie, even if we told her that we were stopping to grab dinner on the way, she’d ask if we were hungry, or sometimes have a pot of something still on the stove anyway. First thing in the morning when we came downstairs, she’d ask what we wanted for breakfast.
Any time I attend a social event which includes a potluck, I end up making at least twice the amount of food needed. I hate to think of the food running out or anyone going hungry, so I always over-estimate. Better safe than sorry. Even when food is a source of scarcity for me, I try to give the best that I can to others, because food can be troublesome for people with allergies or dietary restrictions, and I want food and eating to be a source of joy and comfort for everyone.
Feeing others can be a spiritual practice. In the era of fast food drive-thrus and convenience food we may have lost sight of that a bit. When you think about it, Jesus spent a lot of time feeding people. Maslow’s hierarchy before that was a thing. You can’t expect people to reach spiritual enlightenment when their stomachs are rumbling or they are shivering outside in the cold.
Even in the old testament, the Jewish people were grumpy from wandering in the desert and being hungry all the time. So God said, here, have some mannah. I still love you. The arm of the trinity most prone to smiting still could see the value of feeding the ones you love. I grew up in the church, and I still miss church lady casseroles. They were the best. Christians are often prone to an unanalyzed gluttony, but how could they not be when one of the major religious rituals centers around the breaking of bread?
I like to think this desire to feed others is also part of my dedication to embodiment. We have bodies. And they matter. We need to feed them well just as surely as we need to feed our minds and hearts.
I wonder if it’s possible to add a potluck component to my drama therapy workshops? Or at least a snack break in the middle.
Cooking is an act of love to me. A way to nourish and care for those I love. So let me feed you, both this holiday season and all year round. I may wish I had something better to give, but I can at least make you a cup of tea.
And feed yourself. And each other. We have to care for our bodies first. Everything else comes after.