Christmas food

Sharing food and cheer is a nourishing part of the holiday season, writes Barbara Intermill. (Dreamstime/TNS)

In a television interview, a representative of Mercy Chefs, an organization of food professionals who were in Kentucky providing meals to families devastated by recent tornadoes, said this: “It’s so rewarding to share a meal with someone who has just lost everything.”

His words struck me because they are so true. Whether we are on the giving or receiving end, the rewards of sharing food with others are nourishing.

We lived through devastating floods that ripped through the central coast of California in 1995. While our home was spared, we had many friends whose homes were right in the direct path of destruction.

One vivid memory in the aftermath of this disaster was the day we were helping   friends rip out walls and once-beautiful hardwood floors that were now saturated with dirty flood waters. I remember fighting back tears as I carried the debris that was once a home to a pile in the backyard.

Tired and weary later in the day, we were resting on a curb outside when a truck of Red Cross volunteers drove up to distribute sandwiches and drinks to us. I will never forget the feeling of relief and thankfulness I had at that moment … and how wonderful that food tasted on that particular occasion.

Food, I realize more and more, can nourish our souls as much as our bodies, especially when we experience challenging times. The love behind the Christmas cookies I bake with my grandkids goes way beyond their nutritional value (or lack of).

It’s a time when we create traditions and gives me a chance, once more, to share the real meaning of the holidays with young, excited minds.

My friend, Cyndi, invited me and few other close friends to her home for a Christmas dinner. She splurged on really good locally produced steak along with garlic-infused potatoes and fresh green beans. Talk about comfort food!

Then she sent me home with the same meal for my husband. Best gift ever.

Last week while helping decorate our Christmas tree, my grandkids decided to write a letter to Santa. “What is your favorite food? Favorite color? Favorite song?” Frances quizzed. Then at the bottom she sent a P.S. that touched my heart: “I don’t really want anything for Christmas.”

Logan, my thoughtful 7 year old, wrote to Mrs. Claus. “Do you take care of Santa?” he asked. Then he said to me, “All I want for Christmas is my family.”

To share. To love those around us with food and cheer. To celebrate the greatest gift ever sent to mankind. That, I am reminded, is what Christmas is really about.

(Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.)

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