Hi there captivating blog readers! My life has me unable to blog as frequently as I once was. I’m creating content once a week on Mondays (with the occasional Friday post here and there) and have decided to open up this platform for other writers to share when they feel led to! Today’s guest blog post is from blogger Meghan Bollenback. Follow her blog for travel stories and some really fun recipes!
Show Love, Don’t Ask For It, Through Food
by Meghan Bollenback
Baking is not something that I consider to be a skill that I have mastered, yet it’s an action that I often find myself craving for one of two reasons: either I’ve had a really bad day and feel the need to make something sugary and buttery to make myself feel better, or I want to do something nice for someone I care about. Maybe they had a rough day or a really amazing day; either way, it’s a potential reason to bake. Typically, I think that 80% of the time I break out my mixing bowls and beaters are for the second reason. I love to show people that I care about what they mean to me, and I often do that through giving treats.
I grew up in a family that loves baked goods. Powdered sugar doughnuts were a regular Saturday morning occurrence and my mom spent far too many hours than needed perfecting themed birthday cakes for my sister and I each year. My personal favorite was a Little Mermaid cake that catastrophically caved in while in transit from home to the location of my 7th birthday party. While my mom was upset with how the cake came undone (Ariel seemed to take “Under the Sea” to heart and went for a dive into the icing) it still tasted wonderful and I knew even at that young age that she’d put a lot of her energy love into it.
Experiences like this made it easy for me to see a connection between food and love. It’s a simple equation that I see everywhere now: giving food to others you care about is a way of showing love. This is easy to understand, but I learned the hard way that giving food to show love is not the same thing as giving food to ask for love in return.
I started middle school at a new school in a new city where I knew literally no one except for one of the teachers, and it’s just not cool to only be friends with teachers when you’re 11 years old. That sixth grade year was one of the hardest years for me socially because for the first time, I had to go through the process of learning how to make friends. When you’re young (yes, even younger than 11), things like cliques, popularity and fashion choices don’t seem to matter as much as whether you like to play tetherball or dodgeball during P.E. class. Middle school was a rude awakening in that I learned overalls with embroidered flowers on them and too-large t-shirts weren’t deemed “cool” by most other girls.
To get through this phase, I began to cook and bake more than ever before. These activities became my way to lose the anxiety and stress I felt at the end of a school day. I made food primarily for my family, but eventually, I began to make cookies and cupcakes to give to my classmates. My thinking was that by feeding other people something I spent time and energy on, they’d have to like me.
Unfortunately, friendship-building isn’t as simple as that. I realized after a few dozen cookies, zero invites to sleepovers, and countless tears that I couldn’t make someone want to be my friend by giving them treats. I could show them that I liked them by giving them something I made, but I couldn’t assume that their taking of my offerings automatically meant that they wanted to hang out. Instead, I had to learn how to get to know people, try to find ways to connect with them, and hope that there were others who would like me despite my questionable attire and frizzy hair.
Luckily, there were (and still are) people out there who like me for me, and I am still to this day friends with many that I’ve known since middle school. The funny thing is that a year after my tough, sugar-ridden 6th grade year, I hosted a cookie baking party around Christmas and invited some girls from school over that I had become friends with. Together we baked, we ate, we threw flour on each other and all over the kitchen (much to my mom’s despair), and we had fun. It was a way of spending time and making things to share with one another. The one-time party became an annual tradition for many years and is now a bi- or tri-annual tradition. Things like people moving to new cities, getting married and having babies has made it more difficult to schedule our party on a regular basis. But, I know that we all now share the idea that making (and typically baking) food for others is a way of showing how much we care for them. I’ve heard from my girlfriends that they continue to make treats for other friends and family members that they just want to do something nice for, and it makes me happy to think that I may have helped spread the idea that food is love.