Take A Seat At The Table
Part of the Continuing Series: The Art of Appreciation
Do you ever have one of those rambling conversations? You know the kind that starts with one topic then links to another, then allows you to jump to another place entirely, miles away from where you began? I have those kind of thoughts in my head all the time. As a matter of fact I just had one, lucky you, that I’m going to share. It reminds me of my travels, starting in one area and then being guided by something that catches our eye – an interesting storefront perhaps – and off we go down a street not on our map.
My mental journey today started simply enough by reading my friend Camerone’s blog theworldandmeandyou.blogspot.com. This entry, The Valet, told the tale of driving her son to school while wearing her pajamas, and of course the potential for disaster. This instantly brought up memories of a friend who had a horrible “pajamas out of bounds” experience (hereafter named PJOB), and my own PJOB with my daughter while in Mont. St. Michel, France.
I won’t go into the details of it all, but suffice it to say we did not expect bright floodlights and hordes of tourists when we slipped out of our hotel room on a quiet alley wearing our pajamas and a coat, certain that the whole village was dark and asleep by now. We had meant to go out to the parking lot outside the walls of this cars prohibited village after dinner to view this national treasure rising from the sea with its abbey perched atop, lit up and twinkling like a Christmas tree. Alas, we forgot until we were climbing into bed. We decided to make a run for it. Our coats were donned mainly to steel us against the wind, and a feeble attempt to hide our plaid pajamas. The lights were blinding, the tourists aghast, and we were laughing. Who knew that nightly viewing was so popular that they had after sundown tours that brought hundreds of people to this tiny hamlet.
As I reminisced I thought that I bet almost everyone has a story of being caught in P.J.s (PJOB), dressed badly, or just being caught in a moment of fashion indiscretion. You know, the moments when you feel you have to explain yourself and why you happened to have your stained sweat pants and ill fitting Class of 85 reunion shirt on, and of course sans any makeup. I swear the only time I run into people I know is when I am dressed in similar fashion and run out late at night to quickly get one thing.
Happens to everyone (I imagine).
Mulling this over, I jumped to a conversation I had with a woman at a gathering a week ago. We were discussing how all of us on this planet are probably more the same than we are different. She had experience working with people in the Middle East and noted the similarities between warring factions and believed if they just sat down and ate a meal together and talked they would find out how much they have in common. Isn’t that true?
Take a look at most religions on this planet. Aren’t there many common goals? The Golden Rule, a version thereof, is something embraced by all sane people. We may worship differently, but basic tenets such as: treat others well, help others, love your children, live an honest life are all common threads. I’m not talking about the minority of radicals who think it is okay to kill another for religion. They have a whole other purpose in mind.
At this point in my mental wanderings I make another turn and end up on a different street and as I walk down it I am thinking about sitting people down to a meal and having them talk. Sharing food and conversation is part of just about every religion, culture, or pleasurable activity on the planet. The food may vary, the reason for celebration can change, but the breaking of bread is a common thread among cultures.
An Italian woman was in my shop the other day and she was telling us of the custom in her region of Liguria of eating goat for the holidays. I saw the smile on her face and the light in her eyes and could see the memories of previous holidays parade past. Whether the occasion is a Jewish Seder, Christmas Dinner, Fourth of July picnic, Id-al-Fitr (feast after Ramadan), Day of the Dead celebration, a wake, or just a birthday party- food is an integral part of the festivities as is enjoying the pleasures of the table and of each other.
It is no wonder that I joined Slow Food USA. I resonated with their belief in returning to the pleasures of the table(have I turned another corner on this conversation?). This isn’t to trivialize all that Slow Food does to make sure food is good, clean and fair. But the image of all of us coming to the table, together, was enough for me to join.
As I took my walk yesterday, clearing my head of the daily bad news I ingest , wondering how we were going to keep our business together and other gloomy thoughts, I looked back to when my husband and I were first married, 30 years ago. We didn’t have a lot of money. Entertainment consisted of friends coming over, bringing some food, playing cards, talking, laughing and of course, eating. They were great times.
Maybe we all need to return to simpler pleasures. Talk to friends and neighbors thus forming stronger connections, sit around a table eating fresh foods from the farmer’s market, everyone contributing something, offering comfort and conversation, maybe open a board game. Have fun finding all those things that we do have in common, the bonds that tie us together, and raise a glass in a toast to all that is good in humanity.