Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are.
– Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making some suggestions of possible sources of gifts for the teachers in your life. Some will be products for purchase. Some will be ideas of things to make. All of them will be meant to help remember teachers as worthy of thanks.
One of my favorite rituals at SLA was the Back-to-School potluck that welcomed 9th grade students and their families to the school. I still remember the first year when Chris was worried we wouldn’t have enough food. Then, families’ favorite dishes started walking through the door.
Food, the breaking of bread, is a fine way to build community.
It’s also a way to show you care.
This semester, I was feeling as though a small group I was a part of in one of my courses wasn’t quite clicking. It was an evening course, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help the group jell.
Each week, on my way to class, I started picking up a snack the five of us could share. It wasn’t much, maybe chips and salsa or trail mix – but it was a way to build community and show I cared for the other members of my group. Two weeks ago, three of us brought snacks to share, and other groups commented on our spread of food.
Not only can food help build culture or welcome newcomers into a culture, food can be how we share culture.
One of my favorite cinematic moments occurs in It’s a Wonderful Life when Mary Bailey welcomes a family into their new home with the words, “Bread… that this house may never know hunger. Salt… that life may always have flavor. And wine… that joy and prosperity may reign forever. Enter the Martini Castle.”
Given the close ties of food in culture in my brain, it should come as no surprise that I suggest gifting a meal to your or your child’s teacher this holiday season.
This is a little trickier, but definitely worthwhile. Here’s how I’d do it:
- Give the teacher a card or certificate explaining the gift.
- Ask the teacher to send home a note or e-mail when they would like to redeem the meal.
- Inquire as to any allergies or dietary restrictions.
- Let the teacher know how much lead time you’ll need on the preparing the meal, e.g., one calendar week.
The meal can either be delivered to take home for dinner or prepared to be consumed for lunch at school. If it’s the latter, go all out and provide the recipient a real plate, real silverware and a proper glass.
I can think of few ways to show care and respect for the work a teacher does to nourish the lives of students than to offer a moment of sustenance for that teacher.
Food is our culture, and food is how we build culture.