Rule № Two
Use Cooking To Create A Secure Home – Not Just Another House
Ever listen to someone nostalgically describe what it was like to eat Thanksgiving Dinner at grandma’s? Those dinners turn grandma’s house into a home and not just another house.
This point in particular is worth emphasizing. When a child gets married, according to Jewish tradition, the bride has a “Shabbat Kallah”, literally meaning “The Sabbath of the Bride”. It is the last time that the little girl who will probably always remain a little girl in your eyes, can spend time with her friends as a single woman. Actually to be honest, it is one big sleepover party for grown girls, and a true test of your sanity. Parents are supposed to disappear while fifteen or more girls take over the house and leave it in ruins at the end of the Sabbath. Single dads, like moi, hide out in their bedroom praying for something less than nuclear catastrophe - and we only come out of the room after asking permission. Daughter's on the eve of their own wedding can be extremely emotional when it comes to father's roaming around their own house and worrying about them.
"You okay?" I ask meekly.
"Stop treating me like a ten year old, Abba. I am getting married tomorrow!"
"I know you are. That is why I could only give your friends some potatoes and rice. Cause I have to pay for the wedding!"
Tears stream down her face. And of course, you are lost. So you run back into your room and count the hours until she lets you out, and says "Abba, it should only take you like six hours to clean the house. We wiped off the table for you!"
Both my older daughters before they were married had their Shabbat Kallah at my house and I did not disappear. (Yeah, like that would happen!) Nor were they worried the food would be bad, (okay they were a bit scared but took the chance). The actual point is that they felt comfortable enough to bring their friends to my house to sleep and eat meals that I cooked. Do not underestimate that feeling of security. Work hard on it and always make sure it is there. Cooking is just one of the factors, but if my daughters thought my cooking would be disastrous they would have asked me to buy take-out food. No matter how good take-out or catered food is, it does not compare to the dishes and recipes that you made for them. They know it and they do appreciate it.
One day you will be “grandma’s house”. Hopefully your meals will be remembered with the same warm nostalgia, and even the burned rice will become delicious in their mind’s eye over time. At least I hope that is how they will remember my burned rice.
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