Neighbor by Neighbor is providing holiday food boxes to the clients we have provided services for this past year. As I have made calls to these individuals, I have asked most of them to share with me their favorite Christmas dinner food from childhood. Although most Midwesterners grew up on the standard mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, most families create convivial affection around specific holiday recipes. Additionally, talking about food often sparks good memories. Food is our common language, and I find it important to invite people to consider and share what they most enjoy.
When my husband and I lived in Japan in our early twenties, we learned a bit about homelessness and food insecurity. We attended a local church where the pastor often invited a homeless man to come and eat in our church kitchen. He would sit alone at a table in the middle of a small kitchen to eat Japanese curry or ramen. Because my Japanese was limited, my relationship with this homeless man consisted mostly of smiles and basic greetings. One day, my pastor and the man were talking in the church kitchen, and the one thing I could understand was that the man did not like spicy food. After a short time of bantering, the type that old married couples participate in, the pastor conceded to his request of non-spicy curry.
As I made my Christmas food box client calls last week, one man shared that he was interested in receiving seafood, or so I thought. I spent too much time explaining why I probably couldn’t accommodate that request, and when I finally gave him an opportunity to speak he said, “when I see food, I eat it.” We both had a good laugh, and I was reminded that there are so many in our community who will be thankful to have something to eat, and what a privilege we have to be able to provide a small feast around the holidays. If you are interested in distributing food to families in our community on Saturday, Dec. 23, please contact Neighbor by Neighbor: 269-231-0648 or firstname.lastname@example.org.