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Eggs By Candlelight

My mom lights candles at dinner almost every night.  Even if “dinner” means cheese, crackers, and a glass of wine in the kitchen, she finds a simple tea light or two to adorn the counter.  She dims the overhead lights and lets the candles flicker until the dinner ends…and sometimes even a bit beyond.  I never thought much about this as a kid; in fact, I don’t think I even noticed it.  But now, as an adult, I find myself lighting candles most nights.  This little ritual makes me feel like I’m at home…”home” in a deep sense that connects my childhood dinner table with the one around which my own children now gather.   The sparkling light calms me (and makes my husband look extra handsome).  And the simple act of lighting candles makes dinner feel unique and precious, even if it’s scrambled eggs and toast.

Credit: Suzette Pauwels via Flickr Creative Commons.

Credit: Suzette Pauwels via Flickr Creative Commons.

Dinner should feel special.  Actually, every meal should feel special.  Food should feel special.  After all, it’s what gives us energy to think and move and work and play.  All too often in our busy (American) lives, meals happen in the blink of an eye.  We sit down at the table — or maybe we don’t even sit — and mindlessly eat while we read the newspaper or watch TV or talk on the phone.  And before we know it, our food is gone, having made a quick migration from fork to belly without us even noticing its taste or texture or complexity or simplicity.  The lack of reverence for food and meal times results in different issues for different people.  For some it causes a constant feeling of being rushed (this is the case for me when I slip away from focusing on meal time)…for others, it might cause them to eat more than they otherwise would…and for others, it may mean they’re not eating enough to fuel their bodies and minds.

I’ve read countless dieting articles urging readers to do a range of things to help shift toward more mindful eating; for example: “chew food a gazillion times before swallowing it” (sounds gross), “carefully identify the spices in each bite” (tough for me to do that while I actually hold a conversation), “eat in silence” (I’m open to giving that a shot, but I’d rather have someone to talk to), “use real plates and real silverware” (I like that one).  The point is, there are lots of ways to get to the same result, and the challenge is to find one that works for you.  For me, the easiest (and prettiest and most nostalgic) practice is also one of the simplest: candlelight.  What works for you?  How do you honor yourself and celebrate your food?  If you don’t have a daily practice, maybe give candlelight a shot tonight.  At a minimum, you’ll make my mom proud.

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