There is a tradition we have that I love. I don’t know if it is considered a Southern tradition (I’ve never lived anywhere else to see if other regions do it), but I do know that we Southerners are generous with it. It is a tradition that sustains at birth and consoles at death: food.
We have seen both versions of it the past couple of months. I didn’t have to cook for probably the first week and a half after Caroline’s birth. I had cooked some in advance, but we were also given food. It is always appreciated at birth because keeping odd hours with a new baby and trying to keep everyone fed is a task. Being able to just heat something up from the fridge is a lifesaver.
Last Monday, I found myself cooking for the family of Travis’s favorite teacher. The community hosted a meal for them after his funeral. Later we attended a meal given for family before the visitation of Travis’s cousin. It struck me how the gift of food helps after a loss in several ways. It is comforting and thoughtful. It relieves the burden of cooking, not only for the usual household but also for those visiting. It decreases the immediate food bill where sudden espenses may be a worry for the family. It is also a good excuse for dropping in to check on the family in the time after the funeral to show continued concern for them.
Once I truly began thinking on the subject, I think it’s beautiful that we greet life in the same way we say goodbye for now to it. Gifts of food grace both the beginning and close of our lives. Just another way of showing that our kitchens are near to the heart of our home life.