We’re More Complex than Our Facebook Posts Reveal

I am not a food blogger. I am not a chef. But I do like to cook and I appreciate a variety of tasty, well-prepared and interesting foods. I say this in response to a few of my friends and family who seem to believe me to be some sort of “foodie” based on the frequency of my food posts online. (I’d argue it’s not that many or that often but…)

I am not a “foodie” if the definition of that word equates to some sort of food snob. I enjoy my fair share of made at home grilled cheese sandwiches, bowls of cereal and coffee made from beans that were ground weeks ago someplace other than in my own kitchen. I do not own a coffee bean grinder. That should assure everyone that I’m not a foodie.

I don’t post food pics to imply anything other than “Look at this tasty treat I’m about to enjoy! I’m not going hungry today. Life at this moment is pretty darn good and I feel grateful and blessed.”

In this turbulent time of distasteful political discourse when people seem to have lost their collective minds when it comes to treating other human beings with any modicum or decency or attempt at understanding–I’m opting to instead post positive. Things that make me happy and that I hope make you happy too. Donuts, burgers, cocktails, recipes and the occasional funny pet video or quote from my kid. Because food seems to be the least divisive thing to share–at least when you’re simply sharing for the sake of sharing and not preaching about low sugar, low carb, all organic ingredients. Because, please… who really wants to hear anything more from the food Pharisees? I’m AWARE that the artificial coloring in those Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes is bad for me. Have you watched the news lately? Indulging in a snack with a little hydrogenated oil seems to be the least of the world’s worries at the moment.

But even so, we still can’t “win” if winning means not creating controversy online. Shortly after I posted a picture of my lunch at a fun new restaurant, someone said to me, “How does anyone afford to eat out so much?”

I just shrug. It seems even when it comes to food, we all see the world through our own experience specific lenses. So maybe the next time someone questions another person’s posts of any kind, these tiny edited bits and clips of life that can never capture the complexity of a whole person, it could be met with a shrug and an acceptance that we all see things just a bit differently. And that if you’d care to discuss any particular issue more in depth, maybe we could enjoy some food together and talk about it IRL.

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Food as a Love Language

Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

It seems like I’ve spent the past month in the kitchen. I baked Christmas cookies, cakes and pies. I made soups and snacks and egg bakes. I prepared a bountiful Christmas dinner followed by a taco bar for New Year’s Eve and game day fan food for the big NFC North division football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. I’ve grocery shopped, sliced and diced and rearranged those plastic storage containers in my refrigerator countless times. You likely did the same. But it wasn’t always this way for me. I haven’t always been as intently focused on food. But this focus will likely last longer than the 12 days of Christmas. Because I’ve come to understand something that once made me scoff.

For years, my mother-in-law has seemed obsessed with food. It’s partly a generational thing. Or a regional thing. Or a raised on a farm thing. Whatever the reason, family gatherings are always scheduled around the next meal. Eager attempts to make sure she prepares each of her son’s favorite foods. Genuine disappointment whenever guests refuse second or even third helpings. This behavior used to make me chuckle. “What’s the deal with all the food?” I wondered.

I grew up in a small household of only girls. We didn’t think much about food. My mother freely admits she doesn’t like to cook. But it’s not like we starved. It’s just that my young life was fueled by more cold cereal and TV dinners than my husband’s. No big deal. Right?

Well, food has become a bigger deal to me. Why? Because I have teenage sons.

As my sweet boys grow taller than me and develop separate lives that I’m only partly privy to, I become like an awkward girl trying to get their attention for a few minutes a day. Gone are the days of having chubby-cheeked toddlers snuggled on my lap. I no longer lie next to little pajama people at night telling stories or singing songs. They are learning to cope with life’s challenges without running to their mommy every time they wince from a bit of pain. And these are good things. Thank God my boys are becoming men. Beautiful, compassionate, hard-working men who I’m sure still love their mother even though they offer me fewer hugs in public.

But you know what makes them light up? Food. I’ve discovered what my mother-in-law has known all along. That one sure way mothers can show love to her boys who no longer want to be snuggled and covered in kisses is to make their favorite foods.

And so, I bake cookies and pies. I make pasta and soul-comforting soups. I stock the pantry with snacks and the freezer with frozen pizzas. (By the way, one frozen pizza used to feed my family of four in a pinch. Now, it’s an afternoon snack for a ravenous teen boy.)

I will simmer roast beef in the crockpot and make stacks of pancakes on Sunday mornings. I will shower my boys with a food storm of love until they move away and dream of their mom’s home-cooked meals. I will pray God’s blessings over all of our shared meals and create dinner table memories with my children. We will break bread together. We will connect and converse. I will get to peek into their lives while they partake at my table. I will cherish the opportunity to love them with the bounty of my kitchen. I will bless them with abundance. And one day, I will likely be distraught, like my mother-in-law, when my sons are middle aged and their wives scoff at the idea of second helpings.

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