Sunday, November 29, 2009

Made With Love

It's no secret my father and I do not get along.

To explain in detail why this is the case would take longer than I intend and honestly, there are stories in my life I no longer feel like sharing. While they are pertinent to the woman I've become, they are ghosties who've been exorcised over the years and I no longer feel their relevance so immediately as I did a few years ago.

Just...suffice it to say, my father is a difficult man to spend time with due mainly to his overall negative outlook, his conservative political and religious views, his apathy toward life, and his unwillingness to say anything really nice about anyone.

This is not to say I do not love my father. I do. Bunches. And I know, even though he doesn't know how to show it in the usual ways, he loves me. Bunches.

However! There is one obvious way in which my father demonstrates his love for me...and it's not what you would expect. It's all in the art of a sandwich.

My father makes the most fabulous sandwich ever. The meat to cheese to vegetable ratio is perfection. He takes the care to make sure the condiments are spread evenly across the bread so that no bite is unfilled with all the flavors. He takes the time to slice tomatoes - thin and without seed slime, just the way I like it. He never forgets the salt and pepper or the pickle slices.

And it is love between two slices of bread.

Last winter, Lex and I were snowed in for a couple of days. Before the storm hit, I, like everyone else in the city, scurried off to the grocery to stock up on supplies before hunkering down for the duration. I don't know if I'd been thinking about sandwiches but somehow I managed to acquire all the makings for the love sandwich. And, when I got home, I made love sandwiches for us both.

I didn't tell Lex that's what I called the sandwich. I just made it for him and he gobbled it down. When he'd finished, he told me it was the best sandwich he'd ever had...something about it just tasted different...special. And that's when I told him about the love sandwich.

Ever since, whenever he's had a hard day or feeling especially subdued, he asks me to make him a sandwich with love. And I do it - adding the love with every layer just so.

Now, I cook a lot. And my sister-in-law, an organic food educator, has taught me a lot about food as a nurturing agent and the importance of loving and nurturing through good foods. So I try to incorporate that knowledge into most things I make and I've begun to apply the love sandwich principle to other foods. Where I really excel though is with my baking. I love to bake and I love to share baked goods made with love with people for whom I care.

Recently, a new friend of mine achieved her one year sobriety and was asked to give a talk at her AA meeting on Thanksgiving night. I met up with her afterward and she was positively glowing with the knowledge of having worked so hard and achieved so much over the course of a year. At some point during the evening, she mentioned she'd wanted cookies but store bought hadn't satisfied her hunger for them.

So last night, I set about to make her some love cookies. It didn't take long - less than an hour - and I decided rather than waiting until today to take them to her, I'd go ahead and bundle them up still warm and drop them off at her work.

When she took the first bite, her face lit up into a glow of sunshine...and she knew those cookies were filled with love for her and pride in her accomplishments. Maybe she didn't know consciously - would not have been able or willing to verbalize it - but she did understand those cookies were different...special. Made with love.

And so I want to say thank you to my father for teaching me that sometimes it's not only OK but sometimes the only way to say I love you with a sandwich.

Now I understand.


kk said...

Ah ha! Now I know your 'secret' ingredient. Your sweetness makes me all teary eyed. :)

zero hour said...

so sweet!
My dad loved to make pancakes Sunday mornings, with "mystery surprises" inside...usually bananas or some other fruit or choco chips..(Me being the persnickety child that I was, would usually refuse to eat them.Maybe that is why we still don't get along? Who knows.)

Kristin said...

What a fun story! I'm sure your friend loved the cookies. :)I had a friend who would occasionally make "lovewiches" for her husband's lunch. She would actually label them "lovewiches" and include a note with some cute message. He asked her to stop because he was embarrassed when some of the guys at work saw, and I thought - suck it up, man! Be thankful you have a wife who makes lovewiches instead of "I-couldn't-care-less-wiches"! :P

Oh, and have you read the book "Like Water For Chocolate"? Kinda reminds me of that, although I'm sure you don't actually cry into your cookie dough. :)

Just Jane said...

@Kristin: I'm a little embarrassed for him LOL. I haven't read "Like Water For Chocolate". I know I need to but sometimes I resist those books...I dunno why.