— Ben Wilkoff (@bhwilkoff) January 3, 2016
A cookie tin sits on my counter. There’s a cartoonish Santa face on the lid. Inside are what you might call sugar cookies. I would be quick to correct you. These are grandma cookies, and a freshly-filled tin of them has traveled home with me from celebrating Christmas with my family for as long as I have lived outside of the city limits of my hometown.
When I was younger, my gramma asked if I wanted to help her make the Christmas cookies. Mind you, this was sometime in the Fall, so my tiny self thought she was joking. Not one for abject silliness, my gramma explained that she made the cookies in the Fall so she could have them ready during Christmastime and be a little more available to be with our family. That was the first important lesson I learned that day.
The other began with the words, “Where do you think you’re going?” It turns out, you’re not done baking cookies in my grandmother’s kitchen until the kitchen has been returned to it’s pre-cookie state. To the dismay of my tiny self, this meant washing bowls, spoons, pans, and other paraphernalia. Cookies aren’t all fun and games.
There’s the tradition – cooking. The whole process, from start to finish, of preparing nourishment for those we love is something I know other families share on a regular basis. At the same time, it feels unique to mine. From my gramma’s Christmas cookies to my mom’s potato soup that serves up much larger than anyone should expect its half dozen ingredients to be able to do, cooking, feeding, sharing a meal with those I love is a tradition I can’t shake.
To feed another is not only to say, “Here’s something to eat,” it is also to give of your time, to share in your skills, and to welcome the cleaning and tidying up these meals can necessitate because these people are worth it.
When I was in undergrad, living in a squalid and terrifyingly over-priced apartment, I invited my friends over for a full-on four course meal at the center of which was served a rack of lamb. Nevermind my vegetarianism and completely disinterest in consuming what I’d cooked. I’d heard it was difficult and fancy. That seemed like a great place to start in showing my friends how much they meant to me. I cannot remember how the lamb turned out. I can picture everyone sitting around the coffee table on suspect carpet, eagerly sharing the meal and ridiculous stories served on paper plates.
This post is part of a daily conversation between Ben Wilkoff and me. Each day Ben and I post a question to each other and then respond to one another. You can follow the questions and respond via Twitter at #LifeWideLearning16.