You’ve been invited to dinner at my home.
“Come on over about 5 or so and we’ll eat by 6,” you were told.
You arrive just a few minutes after 5 o’clock with your tummy growling. You can’t wait to eat!
Oddly, however, it’s pretty clear I haven’t been slaving away in the kitchen preparing a gourmet meal. In fact, there are no signs whatsoever of any meal prep or cooking going on. The table isn’t set, and instead, you notice piles of my paperwork still on the dining room table in desperate need of being sorted and filed. The candle I have burning smells good, but it sure don’t smell like food.
Aside from a bowl of chips on the counter, there are zero indicators that your hunger pains are going to be quelled anytime soon. And you’re concerned.
Cold cuts? A big salad? Your mind starts to run through the list of foods that are served cold.
Honestly, you’re a bit confused. You clearly heard me say ‘dinner’, so you just patiently wait to see how this is going to play out.
All of a sudden, I get up mid conversation and start pulling leftovers out of the fridge. As I uncover the Tupperware containers, I ask if you like your chicken cold or if you want it warmed up. You notice I’m spooning leftover veggies and potatoes into saucepans.
Minutes later I throw some paper plates on the kitchen island and tell you, “Dig in! Dinner is served!”
You stare at me incredulously, and in that very moment, I’m wondering what you are thinking.
So, tell me, what ARE you thinking? What’s going through your head?
Are you offended? Amused? Bewildered? Angry? Happy?
I’d really like to know.
‘Leftovers’ get a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so. When all you’ve got left is garbage because your priorities are out of order and you’re making poor decisions, your leftovers are a sign of disrespect. Unimportance.
When it comes to food, some people abhor leftovers, refusing to touch em’ with a ten foot pole.
Let me tell you right now, I am not that girl. I’ll intentionally cook extra JUST to have leftovers for lunches or another dinner. What a timesaver! I’ve also found that spices have more time to blend and food just tastes better heated up the second time.
But by definition alone, leftovers don’t sound terribly appetizing. They are the ‘scraps and uneaten remains from a previous meal’. Hmmm…. not necessarily the stuff most people would choose to serve to their guests.
But maybe they should?
Last year, Lindon and I shared a leftover meal with two very special friends, Roger and Cindy. It was after the Thanksgiving holiday, so leftovers are customary and generally accepted. Heck, they are actually looked forward to after turkey day! We all agreed it was going to be a leftover meal, so no surprises. Regardless of the circumstances, though, there was still some trepidation hosting friends and pulling food out of storage containers – yummy or not!
We all agreed it was one of the best meals we’ve had together, and that’s saying something because we sure eat together A LOT! But in addition to how delicious it tasted, it was fun. There was something so intimate and powerful about sitting around our table, nothing fancy in sight, mixing, matching, and sharing leftovers. What a special time!
You see, sometimes leftovers are actually reserved for the best of the best. For those close friends I feel insanely comfortable with and who I have long since moved past trying to impress. The cast is set and the pressure is off; we’re in secure and cozy mode.
In my book, serving leftovers is a serious compliment.
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This isn’t the norm. We’re often more consumed with making flawless presentations than we are making meaningful conversations. Time and attention is spent attempting to achieve perfection, when time and attention ought to be spent WITH people, not simply trying to impress them.
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Sure, it’s fun once in a while to make a scrumptious dinner and set a beautiful table to spoil your friends, but the difference is with my best friends, I don’t feel I have to! I can let down and just be me. Super casual. Totally relaxed. Completely stress free. And participatory.
Leftovers are a sign of Comfort. Security. Love.
So if you come for dinner at my house and find yourself looking at a plate of day old leftovers, consider that the ultimate compliment and dig in! Leftovers or not, I promise it’ll be good!
And if you’re feeling bold, invite your best friends over for a mish-mosh night of leftovers and see what happens. Perhaps they have something in their fridge they can share too? You might be really surprised how delightful a leftover meal can be!