I am fortunate to have a husband who knows how to cook and likes to do so. This year he prepared Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner for our families. He likes to cook when inspiration strikes, usually on the weekends. He inspired and taught me how to cook as well, and often the daily cooking chore falls to me. A while back, when we were both commuting long distances, I decided to come up with a meal calendar. The idea was to plan out meals in advance so we would be less desperate at the end of a long, hard day and eat out less often. I had the idea for the calendar long before I executed it, for lack of the right supplies. One day, a box of what can only be described as crap showed up on our doorstep via FedEx. One of the many, many, many companies Shaun orders from online had picked his name at random for some “prizes.” Chintzy, cheesy, cleaning-out-their-own-closet-to-fill-ours “prizes.” In the box were several dry erase calendars with a New York Mets theme. I’m not a sports fan but this board was free and almost exactly what I was looking for. Thus the calendar was born.
It quickly became a kind of retrospective on the month’s eatings, instead of its intended use as a planner. But the retrospective worked. It allowed me to see how many meals we prepared at home throughout the month, and it also reminded me which recipes to try again and which to throw away.
Shortly before I had Sonja, the calendar was becoming sparse. I had no energy to cook and very little to go out. A lot of days were filled out as “misc,” the term I came up with for fending for ourselves. Not leftovers, just whatever we could find in the house. Sandwiches. Frozen dinners. Ice cream. Finally, Sonja was born and she stopped the calendar. My husband made quite a few meals the first couple of weeks and our parents brought over food as well, but no one was paying any attention to calendar. When Shaun went back to work I wasn’t able to resume a normal cooking routine (still can’t) for not knowing when the baby would sleep or how long or if she’d be awake but in a good enough mood to watch me cook.
I overheard on both Christmas Eve and Christmas our guests talking about this calendar, frozen in time. The last day that was filled in was Sonja’s birthday, three months ago, and that was just a message from me. So now I have to decide whether to continue this funky tradition or to let it go. It seems like a bit of an intimate view into our lives so I’m always tempted to take it down when we have visitors. Against my better judgement, it remains steadfastly and stubbornly on the wall, and has proven to be quite the conversation starter. Which is weird, because you would probably never ask your friends to recount all the dinners they’d had the previous month. I’d have to say the calendar has also served its purpose, which was to encourage us to have more meals at home. (Sonja, by the way, has furthered that cause as well.) So while I no longer need the calendar to provide momentum to cook, perhaps I’ll keep it as a talking point.