Friday, July 27, 2012

The Power of a Ham Sandwich

I always know when times are tough emotionally.

Not as much by the things I do or say, but more often by the things I eat.

When life becomes difficult, for whatever reason, I go straight to food as my ultimate source of comfort.

This can be explained twofold:

1. We didn't have a lot of money growing up and food, therefore, represented a sense of safety, permanence, and security.

2. In a family that resonated with art, passion, texture, colour, fragrance, and taste - food was a natural source of comfort. I learned at a very early age that gingerale, potato chips, and chocolate bars had the power to make me feel better.

A notion, that despite valiant ongoing efforts, has carried into my adult life.

And into the past three weeks.

I haven't been to the gym, I've put on weight, and I look tired.

But I'll be okay.

I went out this evening and bought myself a whole new kit of makeup, have a hair appointment tomorrow, and will get back to the gym eventually because I always do.

However, because I haven't quite worked through the stress, I found myself this evening dreaming about my ULTIMATE comfort food:

A ham sandwich with margarine, and mustard on processed white bread.

I know.

For me, this is right up there with mashed potatoes.

Here's why:

I don't think any of us should minimize the role of food in our emotional lives, and, for some of us, the part it plays in "filling up" the empty spaces.

When I was in high school I had a very good friend who I'll call, "Philip Finkelstein" (and yes, he was exactly as one would expect: studious, shy, a little nerdy, but on the road toward great things)

Too bad I couldn't see it then.

Because Philip Finkelstein (who went on to become a very wealthy and successful man) had a crush on me in high school and everyday come 12:00 pm, would share his lunch.

Philip's mom packed it for him every day: Two ham sandwiches on white bread with margarine and mustard.

Wrapped in wax paper.

And every day from grade ten right through to grade twelve, he shared his second sandwich.

The beauty of this is that his mother has absolutely no idea.

She doesn't know that - even though we never met and all I ever knew of her was the love she put into a carefully wrapped sandwich - I modeled portions of who I became as a mother after her.

She doesn't know that the love and comfort packed into those lunch bags has created a personal need in me for ham sandwiches to this day.

On white bread with margarine and mustard thank you very much.

And she will never know that the love and care she packed into those sandwiches continues to be felt by me now.

But that's energy.

The power we each have to affect lives - and the resonance love has when it infuses itself into everyday moments.

So today, when you go about the business of your own life, remember this: Love, even in its smallest moments and routine gestures has the power, not only to alter the course of a life, but to turn memories golden - like the mustard on a ham sandwich.

The right kind of love travels all kinds of unexpected places so that years after the last of the wax paper has been put away, a middle aged woman who, once upon a time, enjoyed a brown bag lunch in a long ago cafeteria, feels comforted by the memory.

Happy Saturday all!

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  1. I love a wax paper wrapped sandwich, and don't know why. I think it is because it is from a simpler time during my unhappy childhood. Even now I will pack my own lunch in wax paper, which I always keep on hand. Great insight Lyndsay.

    1. I love that you got it :-) Wax paper... who knew?

  2. For me it's peanut butter and banana on toast. When I'm tired and over-worked, when I hit my wall, all I want for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner is toasted PB&B.
    Another comfort food from my childhood is bran flakes topped with lots of fruit salad and milk. Food and memories are so strongly ties together.

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  4. Does "Philip Finkelstein" know how this seemingly simple act affected you?