Everyone has a thing, right? Some people are into coffee, some people are into gaming, others are into art. You get the idea. Well, there's been an ongoing joke throughout my life that my 'thing' is food. I have always been known for being always hungry and loving food. I was talking with my friends recently about it and when I got to thinking I realised that my 'food thing' came from the fact that all my best memories included food. Now, you're probably thinking that I love food of a high quality or some fancy-pants cuisine like a real 'foodie' but no. If I could eat nuggets for the rest of my life, I probably would. It's just that whilst I was growing up all my moments of connection and fun were around a table. Let me explain.
As I was growing up my family almost always ate dinner together, even if it meant waiting until my dad got home at 6:30pm, which when you tend to get hangry is LATE. (Stop judging me, I have kids and I like to eat at 5pm). It was always the place that we talked, laughed and discussed how to put the world to rights. My parents are the kind of parents that don't do small talk, instead when they ask, 'how are you?' they don't want a generic response. They mean 'how are YOU?'. They want to know how your mental health is, what you're feeling, how your bowel movements are... I think I've made my point. Since I was small, whenever I went out with my parents, especially my mother, we went for coffee and cake (for a detailed understanding of my mother's love of coffee, please refer to my previous posts). This meant that whilst we waited for my sister to finish dance lessons, we were waiting at a café. It meant that when my school day finished early every other Wednesday, guess where we went? For coffee and cake. We'd catch up, talk about boys and why I didn't like my teachers (sorry).
Every Saturday my dad used to write his talk for a Sunday (he was a church vicar), so being the excellent teenager I was, I used to drag him away from his laptop, and insist we kept up our weekly tradition of driving away from our little town for an hour or two. We'd jump in the car and head to another village to visit a bakery to pick up a chicken bake and an iced finger (I also found out that some people call these 'sticky willies' and if that isn't hilarious, I don't know what is), and then the newsagent to pick up a drink and crisps. The challenge was only one of us was allowed to carry all the food. Once I got our Jenga tower of food back to the car, we would drive to another village, sit by the duck pond, and eat. Then if there was room in our full bellies, it was time for ice cream! (hey! I didn't say it was healthy! And OF COURSE there was always room.) But the joy of these lunches was that we'd just talk and we'd catch up (and of course the food was great). It made memories. I loved it and still remember it, even though it's been almost 10 years since we last went for one of those drives.
I have many memories of camping and cooking sausages in the rain, operatic breakfasts (this involves singing everything you're doing), Sunday McDonald's after church, when I got a McFlurry after my guitar exam and chicken nuggets on my birthday, the time my beautiful birthday cake got squished, and the excitement of being 9 years old and going with my parent's band mates for a curry at 9pm! My sister also has multiple memories of a hangry Lucy-Rose, specifically one where I marched her round York looking for a sandwich shop (that will remain nameless) that housed the meatball marinara sub of dreams. Oops.
All these moments were moments of connection with my family and made memories we still laugh about now. It's about so much more than just food. I continue some of these traditions with my kids now because what is life without Sunday McDonalds? But more importantly I hope that they think fondly on those moments in 20 years and remember the talks and laughs we had. The messy joy and deep conversations. I hope that I take this season of life to make memories and connection around the table with my children.