Friday, February 6, 2009

How little things can mean a lot...

Wednesday night, when I got home, I immediately set about getting supper ready. Because of intercession at my school, the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to get home before Wifeness and the girls do. When that happens, I try to take care of supper because it is usually something my wife has to do. During my regular teaching year, I don’t often get home until just before we need to put food on the table, so it is up to my wife to make that happen most nights. On Wednesday, though, I was expecting to deal with supper.

I had been thinking about what to make on the way home. I had decided on rice to go with the kielbasa that needed to be cooked, but Karla informed me that Wifeness was expecting macaroni and cheese. That worked for me. Mac and cheese is faster to prepare than rice. I grabbed a couple of boxes of Annie’s from the pantry and pulled the pot out from the dishwasher, but then I paused. For some reason, this wasn’t right. It was mac and cheese, but it wasn’t quite what was supposed to be. I sat there for several minutes, staring at the boxes. What was my problem? Mac and cheese is not complicated. There’s not a lot of variation on the theme of mac and cheese, and yet I couldn’t escape the thought that this was not was I was supposed to make.

My brow was still furrowed when Wifeness came in the door. I explained my problem as best I could (I may have said that I just wasn’t feeling the love for boxed mac and cheese), but that didn’t quite say what I was feeling. I hemmed and hawed inside, looking for some way to quantify what was going on in my brain, even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on the problem or a solution. My wife, perhaps with supernatural understanding, offered, “Would you like me to do homemade mac and cheese?” That’s when the lights came on.

A while ago, I was walking down the hall at school when Monica caught my attention by saying hello and smiling. She was sitting on the floor in the hall (not at all unusual at my school) and she was eating something out of a paper cup. When I inquired as to what it was, she said, “Mac and cheese.” I asked, with no small amount of derision, “Is it good?” She shrugged her shoulders and replied, “It’s food.”

Can you see the teachable moment forming here? We talked about the difference between her concept of food (that which fills the belly) and my concept of food (that which also nurtures the heart and soul). The conversation (which might have gone on for a long time) eventually ended with my offering to demonstrate how good, homemade food does more for a student in school than packaged food nuked in a paper cup. I said, “You know, our house makes some really good homemade mac and cheese from time to time. When it comes up on the menu next, I’ll make extra and bring it in.” Monica thought this was a great idea, as you might imagine and, over the next several weeks, she would ask regularly if it had come up yet. She would jibe, “I’m soooo hungry!” and feign sadness when I told her we just hadn’t worked it into the menu.

Monica is one of the sisters who lost her mom this week.

In its curious way, I’m feeling like the universe alerted me to something important. I don’t think I told Wifeness why at the time, but I know I said, when she offered to do it, that it would be great if she did homemade mac and cheese. A lot of homemade mac and cheese. She questioned it when I brought out two full boxes of pasta. “Are you SURE you want this much??” Yes, I’m sure. This is what we’re supposed to cook.

If I haven’t said it before, my wife is an awesome cook. Apart from the technical skill she demonstrates in the kitchen, everything she makes is infused with love and I believe absolutely that her food is better for what she puts into it of herself. It tastes better. It feels better. It nurtures better. I try to express my appreciation to her for all that she does, but I was especially grateful for the fact that she offered to do this without even knowing (or knowing why) it was important. In case I didn’t make it clear then, thank you, my love!

There were, as expected, a whole lot of leftovers. I put some in a separate container to bring to school, surreptitiously making sure that night that she was going to be on campus tomorrow. Aside from the fact that her family was in the middle of mourning a death, it was intercession, and her group was often off-site during the school day. I found out that she would, in fact, be at school, so I pushed to get to school early enough to catch her before we both had to get to our own business. I found Monica with a couple of people in a classroom. She said hi to me, then looked at the container I had in my hand. I gave it to her and said, “My wife made it last night. I’m sorry it took so long.”

She gave me a hug and said, “Thank you.” The hug lasted a really long time.


Mrs. Chili said...


Yes; that's it, exactly.

JRH said...

Love it when my subconscious is thinking harder than the rest of me.