Second Rite of Passage: food, glorious food!!

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This time, instead of highlighting a favorite cuisine drummed up by the honored rite of passager, I chose to wallow comfortably in a different direction. Hmmm . . . or should I say Mmmmm . . . what was your favorite comfort food in your teens? That’s the question I asked all the participating ladies for Ginny’s second rite of passage in an email several weeks before, then requested they all bring their comfy contributions to our opening evening potluck.

As we sat down to table, I began the feasting with a quote to honor the theme of the evening. “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”- Thomas Jefferson.

Yes, give this decadent indulence historical backing, that’s what I say!

I continue to reflect on the marvelousness of this moment of cozy culinary array:

“Comfort foods. Delicious, creamy, amazing, comfort foods. From our childhood. From our teenage years. From adulthood. A girl is sitting on a bed in the heat of Kansas summer with a plate of cheese, crackers, and grapes, a book in her hand and the fan on high. That’s one woman’s version. Tearing through the front door on an autumn La Mirada afternoon and hit with the smell of homemade chili and cornbread after a day at school. The anticipation of the pleasure. The desire. That’s mine. Coming home from college and knowing that the requested day-long-in-the-making heirloom lasagne awaits the five home-comers. That’s another’s. No-bake cookies laced with chocolate and peanut butter from mom’s kitchen in Michigan. And yet, one more. Ours for the night: cheesy hash brown casserole, heirloom lasagne, chicken pot pie, sautéed spinach, and coconut cream pie. Heavy on the comfort. Heavy, heavy on the comfort. Stories of food and family. Heavy on the comfort.”

And that my friends, is how we began . . . .!

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Second rite of passage: imagining your contribution

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Round two: everyone contributes! My job? To create a fun container for people to place their delectable and teachable offerings. And so, what to do? How to begin? Take one artist, one experienced game-player, two teachers, one journal-writer, a dancer, and a culinary dabbler and throw them into a big wide corrugated cardboard box (not really). Shake ’em around a bit, throw them onto the table like so many dice, and what do you get? All sorts of possibilities!!

Well, I didn’t do that exactly, but I did metaphorically! I invited the rite of passage mentors/participants to think about what they might like to teach Ginny. Since the theme was “building community” I asked them to think about a fun activity that might help Ginny learn to create a sense of community where she was soon moving to.

Some took off with great ideas from the get-go. Others needed a little gentle massaging, but what did I get in the end?

An amazing community art project we all engaged in and gifted to Ginny. A first hand view of building a seven course meal for a friendly gathering. A lesson in meaningful journaling. A frolicking twist on traditional game-playing. A literary brainstorm on sharing personal history with a crowd. And a jaunt into morning meditation and hand massage to promote self-care, care for others, and welcoming the day. Could a collection of mini-workshops be more diverse, engaging or interesting? I think not!!

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Second rite of passage: a new leader emerges

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At age 18, I wanted to give my daughter a further, deeper, broader experience in entering the wide wide world of womanhood. It is a beautiful world indeed, and she was just brushing the shiny surface of it, so in her burgeoning blush into adulthood, I figured it was about time to let her “woman” with us.

Gentle though. Slow down. I did not want to overwhelm her. No major planning or making phone calls for this round. I still wanted this to be a gift. To ease into being an offerer in our little community was the goal, decked out in encouragement, feathered frills, and heart-warming extras. I wanted my daughter to see that being a contributor, really, was itself a gift- to the self as well as to others.

So my assignment was simply this: “Ginny, if I were to give you an hour or two to teach your loving little group of mentors something meaningful to you, and potentially, to them, what would you teach them? It doesn’t have to be a lecture (though it could be); you can make it a hands on experience, a listening experience, an experiment, the sky’s pretty much the limit!”

Well, what Ginny came up with was achingly beautiful. This I will share in a future post. It’s a fun thing to think about, isn’t it? If your child had a chance to teach you something, to teach her mentors something, what would she come up with? The answer might surprise you (and even make you tear up a bit . . . or if it’s hysterically wonderful, laugh out loud. . . .)

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Your child: a thank you assessment

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Yesterday, our household celebrated two intricately tied events: my son’s 19th birthday and Mother’s Day. It was a chance to both honor the child brought into the world on that fine May afternoon (all nine and some odd pounds of him) and the one that hefted that oversized boy around in the primordial stew of embryo en utero (sounds fancy and French, doesn’t it?)

Such a stars-aligned event brought about another unique opportunity: to make a fairly comprehensive list of appreciations for the united act of motherhood and childhood. To take 15 minutes or so out to carve a personal thank-you note on the stationary of my computer was a worthwhile experience. I find that when creating a list of appreciations, the more detailed the better. Small is beautiful (think petit fours or diamond earrings). Little specifics make the gratitude both palatable and real. Here’s a few of mine. What are yours?

gratitudes when contemplating motherhood:

receiving texts that simply say, “love you, mama. good night.”

my son snuggling up closer to me during a movie because, “it might be a bit scary for you, mom”

my daughter alluding to our favorite children’s book character, Paddinton Bear in a text message sent from her dorm room

on contemplating my son, John, I’m grateful for:

hearing him say, “I have been craving doing math lately” as he responded to a middle school kid’s need to go to him as a tutor for school

paying consistently for the vegetables on our grocery list since he’s procured a job

wanting to catch up with me over a cup of coffee on a fairly regular basis

Simple things . . . but I feel better already recounting them. It’s sort of like a piece of chocolate on my pillow to welcome me back to someplace special . . . .