If you’ve read Gary Chapman’s best-selling, “The 5 Love Languages”, you know that between gifts and acts of service belongs an unwritten love language, food.
I’ve been experiencing the food love language my entire life. One of my fondest childhood memories is walking into the kitchen after school for fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and a slice of braided oatmeal bread my mom had baked. As our son has been in spinal cord injury rehabilitation since early January, we’ve received gift boxes of food sent to us and food dropped off for us, both by friends and strangers.
Sharing homemade food with others when they are in need I think is a part of our rural culture. When there is crisis, loss, to welcome you or to simply be neighborly, we deliver a meal or baked goods. I naïvely assumed everyone knows this culture until one Sunday morning when Nathan and I came to Hunter’s room.
Hunter said, “Someone dropped off something at the nurse’s station for me this morning.” The nurse’s station attendant said there had been a visitor that had left a plastic container and a card for Hunter.
In the card, the gift giver explained her connection Craig Hospital and how is she thinking of Hunter and our family. Then it read, “P.S. I’m from Devils Lake.”
I still do not know this woman. But she’s from Devils Lake so she is one of us, I felt. For those not familiar, Devils Lake is a town in northeastern North Dakota, known for its fishing and outdoor recreation, 50 miles north of my parents’ farm. And like 95% of towns in North Dakota, it’s a small town.
I opened the container to find Special K bars and caramel bars. First, you might need to be from a rural Upper Midwest area to even know what Special K bars are.
Hunter, Nathan and I shared the bars, tasting both kinds. Delicious and I said, “Tastes like home.”
And then a person at the hospital asked, “Do you know the person who made the bars?”
I paused and said, “No. But she’s from Devils Lake.”
The person said, “Are the bars individually wrapped?”
I looked at the container of neatly cut bars and smiled, “Nope.”
We all laughed.
It never crossed my mind that I would decline to eat bars from a stranger, dropped off at a nurse’s station more than 900 miles from home.
I realized what I sounded like — the small-town, naïve, non-city dweller that I proudly am.
I have trust in rural people. At times, the trust can backfire, but a far majority of the time, it makes me proud of where I am from and the people who make up our rural communities and culture.
We have laughed several times over our trust in strangers from our home area. It is who we are. Love, care and support are not always given and shown in words where we are from.
The food love language is demonstrated through a hotdish (that’s like a casserole from you unaware of our hotdish culture) delivered to our home many years ago by my daughter’s teacher when she figured out through our daughter’s simple explanation that I may have lost a pregnancy. Our daughter didn’t know it but the teacher did. She brought us supper.
The love language of food has been given to me hundreds of times when I was trying to juggle full-time work, travel, marriage, raising kids and home life. My mother-in-law invited us over for a homemade supper, dropped off fresh-baked buns, rolls or dessert on our kitchen counter or fed my husband and kids at her house and then left a plate of food for me in the refrigerator.
Sharing your appreciation, your service through food is love. Thank you to all who do. Keep baking, cooking and giving to those in need around you or simply to be welcoming or loving to others, for no specific set of circumstances.
We’re full of baked goods here. And I have since joined the gym in the basement of the hospital. Food as a love language has its consequences and I need to burn them off my hips.