This is chapter 6 of Keeping House: A Litany of Everyday Life and is about Food to Eat.
"Food is so daily".
And because of that, it has a lot of significance to us as human being. In the Bible, food is the occasion of the first sin, and food also becomes intrinsically connected with our salvation, prefigured in the Passover meal and in the manna in the desert, and then in the feeding of the five thousand, and finally coming to full significance in Jesus's declaration that He is the Bread of Life. We are called upon as Christians to "feed the hungry"
This chapter is divided up into four aspects of food -- the eating of it, the food itself, the preparation of it, and who we eat with. Since I have been up in Alaska visiting my mom I have been comparing how flexible and yet continuous these things are.
My mom likes to have things nice -- not rigidly perfect, just pretty nice. She uses line-dried cotton or linen tablecloths and cloth placemats and napkins. When I first came up here, since we were both ladies and we both eat fairly simply, we set out very simple meals three times a day. But she has a lot of habits that keep even simple meals a ceremonial and pleasant occasion. We set the table, we moved the food from cooking dish to serving dish, and we sat down to say a grace and eat. My mom watches the news before dinner but always turns off the TV before sitting down to eat. We make sure to have prepared a balance of fruit and vegetables, a wholegrain food and some meat or cheese or eggs. We usually prepare the meals together, dividing up the little tasks.
In contrast, my boys' apartment in Eugene doesn't yet have a regular table and meals have to be plentiful and are often much less ceremonious. They often eat in or around the kitchen and we use that chance to talk and sort of interact.
And I noticed that when my brother showed up here, things were varied again. My brother loves to cook (who knew?) and so he politely holds on to the kitchen proceedings and gets everything set up and prepared before calling us to eat. Since he's a pastor he has often been reading a Psalm or improvising a grace since he showed up.
What I am thinking is that food, its preparation and what it is and who serves it, and how it is served and eaten, are a very interesting mixture of individuality and commonality. You probably can get a better idea of a family or society culture by watching how the meal is prepared and served and eaten, than almost any other way.
Meals are also a kind of teaching and learning through action. But it's not the directly didactic kind of teaching; it's more like a teaching by participation.
So, perhaps a good time to reflect on meals you have partaken of in past years, what they said about what was going on, how these occasions look in your own family, and what you would like them to look like. Since it's the New Year, it's a good time to reflect on your systems and what direction you want them to go in. Any other reflections or rabbit trails on this chapter would also be welcome!