Traveling Through Time
My wife Colleen and I recently took a trip across the eastern part of the U.S. to visit several family members and friends. We drove from our home in central Ohio through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia over 11 days. Our stops included an old friend and co-worker I hadn’t seen in 27 years, a niece and her new baby born while her husband was deployed with the U.S. Navy, an old friend of the family who grew up just down the block from me and was my little sister’s best friend, a college roommate and good friend of our youngest son, a nephew and his three children, two of whom we’d never met, and several other old and dear friends.
Each of these visits were unique as the people involved. Their ages ranged from twenty-six (26) to pushing sixty (60), their lifestyles varied from single to married with children to empty-nesters, and our histories are just as diverse and varied.
It was an excellent trip. We shared wonderful memories, told and retold stories, looked at photos, met children and ‘significant others,’ remembered people who have since left us, and reconnected in a way that made it feel like no time had passed since we last met. Truly a blessed trip.
Food and Fellowship
And interestingly, in each case, our reunions occurred around meals. Isn’t it fascinating how sharing a meal is so instrumental in helping us share, connect, and relate to each other? The simple act of sitting down together, over a meal, provides us comfort in finding common ground and at the same time provides us a safe environment to celebrate our unique differences. I understand why the act of breaking bread together has such strong symbolism and invokes our spiritual senses.
Our Daily Bread
For the weight loss surgery patient, this situation can present important issues that must be faced. In our lives, food has served several purposes. We must eat to live, that’s a fact. But eating and eating well are two different things. It’s very easy to get caught up in the celebration of friendship, family, and connectedness that dining together facilitates. It’s easy to lose control, becoming swept up in the euphoria of the moment, and to give into a ‘more is better’ approach that may have gotten us into trouble in the first place.
Control is a Blessing
I found my control over food by implementing two tactics. First, I waited five or even ten minutes after the food was served to begin eating. During that time I focused on what this reunion meant to me, on how fortunate I am that I hadn’t eaten myself to an early grave, and that Divine Providence had kept my friend or family member safe from harm and available to sit with Colleen and me on this day. Second, I pictured being allowed the gift of having this person as a guest at my house sometime in the future. This helped me remember to eat right, so that I might stay healthy and fit for their visit. In these tactics, I found the ability to manage myself and control the urge to overeat.
As the end of year holidays approach, and with them the abundance of foods that are offered as we eat and dine together, remember to the share fellowship, acknowledge the blessings, celebrate the pageantry and spirituality that these holidays bring, and reflect on the words of Anthony Bourdain when he says:
Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.
There will be food, and there will be You. You are the important element in that pairing. You.