Cooking With A Grateful Heart
A Sunday this month, a few cousins and me invited and hosted our immediate and extended family members for dinner. That went straight into everyone's hearts :) It was a gathering of many firsts! For the first time, we youngsters took the initiative of meeting and inviting the family members over dinner. It was the first time we all came together to cook. For some of my cousins, it was the first time they even held a knife, so cooking for 50 people was a unique experience :)
It all started with a casual telephone conversation with one of my cousins who prepared a meal for his family every Sunday to spend time with them. Recently, he had prepared a meal for seventeen people. I thought that if he could single handedly manage a meal for so many, then two of us could easily manage making a meal for double the number :) I thought this is the opportunity. I always wanted to do something meaningful with my cousins but never got a cue. And this was the perfect opportunity. I told him let's cook for 50 people, the whole family. He then wondered if I’m seriously thinking about cooking for all. It took time to make him feel confident that we can do it. Once he agreed, we shared the intention with other cousins.
It took time to convince everyone but then those questions and concerns brought in a lot of opportunities to share my intention with them. Lots of hurdles came in and we canceled the date many times and finally the plan materialized. It all was falling into place effortlessly in the end because I think our intentions were getting purified too. Once we cast our intention, the universe conspired to make it really happen :) Our first challenge was to find a place to cook this meal as most of us had younger siblings / cousins studying for their exams. Just then, one of my cousins who has been staying alone after her parents' and grandparents' death said that we could do it at her place as her mom really used to love hosting and feeding people. So with this cooking, she wished to bring back those treasured memories of serving; like her mother and offer her place for some service. One of our grand parents are too old to host the family by themselves so we decided to cook and serve everyone at their home. They also complained about youngsters not visiting their home J so when we asked them about hosting the gathering, their joy was boundless.
Then everyone was worried whether it was a good idea for us (younger ones) to invite or if we should request an elder to invite all family members? After some brainstorming, we realized that most of us have not interacted on a personal level with everyone and so this was an opportunity to come out of our comfort zone and speak to the extended family and invite with lots of love :) I have always found these norms funny. And so this was a good opportunity to break such things like only if an elder person calls, then its appropriate.
As the day started getting closer, all of us started getting more and more ideas, which also lead to arguments sometimes, which by God's grace got sorted beautifully by the end of the day. What I liked the most was how beautifully we were able to express ourselves, bring in our creative energies collectively and connect with each one during the preparations for the gathering. It makes me trust more and more that we built deeper ties when we serve together.
All my growing up years, we celebrated a majority of the functions with my extended family wherein the host family will prepare a meal for all 50-60 of us. Different families took turn to host all of us. So while we were cooking for the gathering, deep gratitude was filling up for our co-sisters, moms, grandparents who have been doing this so regularly and lovingly. Many a times we would casually comment on the menu being the same every time a family hosted or the taste being just okay. It is only when we started to cook, we realized how we failed to see their love and effort to cook for so many of us.
Six of us came together with intention to serve our family on the set date. Our family has nurtured us ever since we were kids. The environment and support that a family gives contributes a lot to who we are today. And they have selflessly served us day in and day out. So we just wanted to express our gratitude for all of it. The elders just loved it. I had no idea they will feel so moved. They were super moved and continuously asking how and where did this thought to cook for 50 people came from.
We spent almost the entire weekend with each other and now it was soon coming to an end. All the invitees (parents, grandparents and cousins) started pouring in and the voice just got louder and louder and the room was filled with more and more love:) They were all pleasantly surprised to know that we hadn't called the food from a caterer or restaurant, but had made it all by ourselves. It was indeed an amazing dinner but the most amazing thing was their reflections about the gathering. They made us share our intention and about the masti we had. Then there was no escape. We had a sharing circle with everyone sharing what they were feeling in the moment.
One of my Uncles shared that only elders take initiatives always and this time that younger ones chose to lead. This shows the bhav that we all hold as a family, the bhav of serving which has been passed on from our ancestors. One of my Aunts (in her 60s) shared that we have given her inspiration. And she invited other elders to do a similar gathering for us to share their love. My Mother felt that this was a good way for us to learn from each other, as we never showed interest when elders tried to teach us. Another Aunt said that this is a great seed for all our younger brothers and sisters and this seed will help them grow into kind humans who serve others. My grandmother shared that this is not only a seed for the young generation but also for the oldest person of the family as it’s a new wave of thought. One of them requested us to invent such new thoughts and spread positivity in our family. Another member shared that his biggest take away was that they all knew a day before that we are up to something, yet none intervened to give suggestions. That meant that they all believed that they should delegate authority and not just responsibility. Another member felt that youngsters don’t want to share or plan an outing with cousins, as they are busy with their friends and jobs. And appreciated the fact that we took out time to think of family and spend time with cousins. The eldest member of our family said the overflowing bhav of krutagnata in room is making her heart full. And she felt so happy that such a bhav has reached us at this age. She said her faith got deeper that the future generation is in safe hands. She blessed for this bhav in us to keep growing.
The entire family felt so special and that we did a lot for them. Right from the invitation card to inviting all of them personally to cooking which ultimately blew everyone away.
I had this intention deep down to serve my family members since a very long time and this gathering gave me that opportunity by God's Grace. I learnt one thing; to keep the intentions pure and trust that one day, something will emerge. And be patient. The smiles, gratitude and love in the air fully filled my heart and despite being physically exhausted. It was an evening that will be remembered very fondly by every member of the family.