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It was zen on a plate.

With Thanksgiving came a nine-day hiatus, as our schools closed for the full holiday week. Even though we didn’t travel, the week flew by and seemed to overflow with indulgence: food galore, social frenzy, electronic overload, my husband’s mad dash to Christmas-up the place.

And then, we abruptly shifted back to the routine of school: the early morning dash to the bus, the hectic after school juggernaut, the dinnertime puzzle, and bedtime strife, which boils down to more indulgence of activity and routine.

As I was racing from household chores to a meeting at the school, I stopped to shove some food in my face. I knew I’d be gone for a couple hours and would regret not making the time to eat before I left. In a scramble, I searched for something quick and easy. It was then, as I threw together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the most basic of “meals,” I found my moment of bliss.

The simplicity of a good old PB&J swept me back to my childhood. I poured a big cup of milk and tossed some chips on the plate, and it was just like I was 8 again. There was a calm to that moment; a joy. I slowed down. I reveled in the flood of emotions evoked by that silly sandwich.

I appreciated that PB&J, as corny as it may sound, maybe more than the divine Thanksgiving feast from a few days prior. Every morsel of Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and the friends who opened their home and hearts to us couldn’t have made the holiday more lovely. Yet, with the clamoring children, the smorgasbord of food, and the holiday hype, I didn’t focus on what I was eating or the real meaning of the holiday.

Of course, I thought about the history of Thanksgiving, family traditions, and the things I am thankful for. Josh and I talked to the kids about gratitude, and how we are so fortunate to be together, healthy, and quite spoiled really. But, in the buzz of the week, I didn’t appreciate anything as much as those two slices of bread slathered with peanut butter and jam—because I stopped what I was doing and allowed myself to enjoy it. I went back to second-grade lunches and post-college breakfasts when PB&J was my go-to. It wasn’t fancy or even the ‘superfood’ of the moment. It was zen on a plate.

For me, as we zip into the bustling holiday season of extravagance, parties, gifts, and goodies, this was a delicious reminder to focus on substance over style. To take the time to feel the moment and be present in my now and memories. It will bring me back to the basics, the good stuff every time.


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