As we crawled between the rows of seats in the main auditorium at our church, dusting the seat rails and book holders of the chairs, my friend and I talked about everything from aging parents to grandchildren to prayer. As I watched the dust disappear into my cloth, I wondered aloud, “Ever notice how so much of what we do isn’t noticed unless we don’t do it?”
Toni laughed, “This would definitely qualify!”
We started naming jobs we do that no one comments on unless they are left undone:
- Clean out the fridge
- Dust the baseboards (Anyone ever say to you, “You have such clean baseboards!”??)
- Sweep the walk
- Vacuum the car
- Clean the toilet
- Wash out the kitchen sink
- Empty the dishwasher
- Neaten magazines on the coffee table
- Put things in their places
…to name a few
Kind of makes you want to stop doing it all until you are appreciated, doesn’t it?
But mealtimes aren’t one of those unnoticed activities. People, even little people, notice when you prepare a table and a meal, even if you do it every day.
Some of my most precious memories of my children when they were little have to do with mealtimes.
- I can see Rosana, about 6, coming in the kitchen and asking what was for dinner and when I told her, jumping up and down and clapping her hands she shouting, “Yaaaaay!” before giving me a tight hug. ( I’d probably told her we were having macaroni and cheese “from a box”. In South America that was a treat because it was imported.)
- I have saved many birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas cards from Samuel, a little boy who loved to eat, and all of them said, “Thank you for making such good food.”
- I can remember Daniel at 9 coming to the table and looking at my unusual centerpiece, designed to illustrate the conversation topic I wanted to talk about, asking, “What are we going to talk about tonight?”
- I can hear Christina carrying her Winnie the Pooh plate and glass to the kitchen and saying, “Thank you for dinner, Mommy.”
You know that this didn’t happen every night at my house—I had nights when the food was greeted with “Yuck!” On those nights I sent the offender to the other room to do a “Take Two” on their entry and say, “Thank you for making us good food, Mommy!” Sometimes they became dramatic actors jumping into the room, landing on one knee arms spread wide, delivering their lines with enthusiasm. Those displays got a round of applause.
And although Jim modeled thanking me for making the food, we [frequently] had to remind them to say thank you at the end of the meal. I guess that’s something that is caught and taught.
I like to say that last year my cooking dramatically improved. I didn’t do anything different, but my daughter moved into her own apartment and my in-laws moved into a retirement home. Suddenly my home cooked meals were outstandingly delicious!
So take heart: the effort of making meals for your family isn’t one of those jobs no one will notice unless you let it go for a week or two. They will notice today. Tomorrow they might tell you. And in the future they will rise up and call you blessed!