In my novel CeeGee’s Gift, 12-year-old Celia Gene Williamson makes the observation that every time there was something really hard to talk about, the adults in her life put food in front of her. And it sure made things easier. Bobbie, CeeGee’s mother, served up chips, salsa and Dr. Peppers with a fresh lime. Old Mr. Tindale always had sweet tea on hand and peeled an apple to share as they talked.
The ‘snack chat’ is different from the family dinner, things don’t get so personal with the whole family present. It’s that face to face, one on one conversation at the kitchen table, or on the porch, that allows important issues to be addressed. At one such meeting CeeGee’s mother tells her daughter of the death of a woman she has cared for and it is a tender telling. At another, Mr. Tindale explains to CeeGee what it means to have a gift.
I remember my mother having chats like these with friends of mine that came over after school or on weekends. I often wondered what they talked about, and why my friends were hanging out with my mom instead of me. Years later, when we were all adults and my mother had passed on, these childhood friends told me my mother was the one person they could talk to about the hard things that were going on in their own lives and families, and that she had honored their privacy for all these years.
Sitting at that kitchen table somehow opened a zone of trust that allowed these young girls to share their stories with a compassionate adult and ask for advice. It was my mother they were able to share their stories with, not me, a child their own age. It is a good reminder for kids and adults alike why we matter to each other, the need we fill and the importance of making the time to have that snack chat. Do you have a special memory of a snack chat?