I was on the bus today and I saw the most tender scene. A mother was feeding her little daughter from a bottle. The girl must have been nearly two, maybe a bit too old to be eating from a bottle, but I am a bad judge of age, especially since I could not see the baby's face. In fact, from where I was sitting, the only thing I could see of her was the tiny doll she held in her arms.
I was struck by the doll, mostly because of the scene. Here was a child so young that her mother was feeding her, yet she clutched the doll like it was her own child. In essence, this child felt the same intrinsic need as her mother: to care for another.
Of course, for me, caring for people always comes by way of food. It is just how I was raised. You cannot enter into my mother's house without being offered something to eat. My aunts are the same way. Whenever I go to Italy to visit them I avoid bringing my skinny pants, because I know that I will be force fed until even my biggest pair are a bit snug.
I used to scoff at this force feeding, but now I see that behind all the food is a message of love. Food is a means of transporting this love into tangible terms. A way to connect with others and to give yourself to them.
This weekend we are entertaining a guest from Italy. He arrived this afternoon and tonight, for the sake of time, we went out for pizza. But I am already planning tomorrow's menu, so that even though he is thousands of miles away from home, he will feel welcome at our table.