"RECIPES FOR A FAMILY"
Author: John A. Fowler, III
Food is the catalyst of family events. Family gatherings are not just about food, however, but of being together, also. Folks don't say, "Let's get together and talk and stare at each other for several hours."
"What they do say is " I'm cooking a ham on Sunday. You can come by after church if you want to." Or the invitation may go something like "We're going to meet at aunt Ida Dell's house next Sunday. Debbies's coming down and your mama said that Uncle Don is supposed to be there. How's Lauren doing? Do you think she can come? Then there's the hook at the end. Your aunt Ida Dell is making that dressing that you like so much and we're bar-be-queing a hog."
I give my implied acceptance of the invitation with me asking, "What can I bring?" Usually, there's is a hush and then a "You don't have to bring anything. Just get there as soon as you can. We're going to eat about one o'clock. Saundra and Theron are supposed to be coming. Have you been to their church, yet? Well, everybody should be out of church by then. I'm baking a squash casserole and making a coconut cake. I'll have some sweet tea and some lemonade. Judy's bringing over that good punch of hers and a pot of fresh peas with ham-hock in it. We'll have plenty. You don't have to bring anything, but if you want to bring something...some soft drinks would be nice--but you don't have to."
Sharing food and time with the tribe serves to further cement the family together and gives identity to its members. It is a positive social event that strengthens the core of the unit and allows in time for the family to continue at the loss of members as well as endure and minimize the hardships of the survivors. Truly, food and social contact then are important ingredients in every family's survival. But there are all kinds of family recipes. There is the blood feuding always love you kind. And then there are the hybrid ones where remarriages bring new people into our lives. Some of these hybrid cousins might at times seem better than real kin, some are worse, but family is family. Family attends your birth, your marriage, the births of your children, celebrate birthdays, get you saved, make sure that you stay saved, invite you to come by on holidays, and the occasional let's get together for Sunday dinners. They give you advice when you need it and when you don't. The family helps you overcome sickness and divorces and depressions. And they attend your funeral.
Therefore, it is important to be an active family member. To be active means to be empathetic and to participate in family events and within your own unique role. So, in this fast-paced world that often tests our limits of endurance and focus so much so that we sometimes forget family, let our top "post-it-note" on the side of the computer monitor say, "Call your Mama!" Or you might want to spoil your spouse and children with the note, "Will bring home pizza and movie." Perhaps you might even spell out "Don't forget about aunt Ida Dell, who had surgery and is recovering in the hospital and who bakes the best cornbread dressing in the world." And then underline on the same post-it note, "A phone call is nice, but a visit in person is nicer." And you could even schedule yourself a reminder in your I-pod to "Bring soft drinks and also fried chicken to dinner next Sunday, because they always run out of fried chicken."