That is what the sign by the checkout line had written in bright letters. You have seen these. They are next to the “laughter cures whatever” and the “hang in there” ornaments. While waiting for my turn, I got over the reflexive hatred for these vacuous signs and started to think about how today’s pandemic dominated world has changed my appreciation of the things I am grateful about. The compulsive “looking-for-the-silver-lining” guy started to think.
Tomorrow just about everyone you know will be sitting around the table and in a Thanksgiving prayer or reflection, will express gratitude for those things any sentient human being values: health and family. But what about some of the much smaller things that have kept us going during these challenging months? I am talking about the gift of friends around a table with food and wine. I dare impose upon you these thoughts because I suspect we share the sentiments.
Whereas the warmth of a friendly conversation, in person, is something that many of us had taken for granted, these days of confinement taught me that those interactions are the “essential workers” of my wellbeing. During those far in between COVID weeks when we could host outside gatherings with friends, albeit a couple or so at a time, I gained a new appreciation of the power and transcendence of what good company means.
Since I suck at golf, play tennis like an invertebrate, and have the attention span of a mosquito when it comes to fishing, the things that my wife and I enjoy together have to do with food and wine. Mind you, not in a gluttonous way but rather as the means of having others partake in something that brings us great joy. After all, the only happiness that matters is the one that is shared. In food and wine perhaps you, like us, find a canvas onto which we create some of that shared joy. I miss the rhythm of entertaining; thinking of what to cook and the wines that will go with the different courses. I miss writing down a grocery list and the time spent hunting down certain ingredients. I miss my butcher rolling his eyes when I ask for a 2-inch thick cut of meat instead of the 1 ½ inch one that is on display. I miss driving from one store to the other in those culinary quests. I miss how contemplative chopping can be. I even miss my wife’s displeasure with the way I plate meals.
But it is the company that I have missed the most. I miss cooking someone’s favorite dish. I miss being enthralled listening to a great story and learning from others’ latest trip or great meal. I miss the comfort and familiarity of taking our shoes off with our guests and hanging out for as long as it takes to finish that late night fateful glass of Madeira or Brandy…sometimes both.
But it will soon happen again and when it does, it will be in a different light strengthened by recognizing the value of the warmth of being with and for others. I am grateful for the renewed understanding of the value of my friends. Cannot wait to have them over again!
We will be waiting by the sign that reads “Casa Muñoz: Established in 2002”
Lorenzo, the wine guy
Friends, food, and wine...I'm happy there.