A Good Lunch

By Melissa Face

My sister, Amanda, kept me in the loop when I first moved to South Carolina. She mailed me letters regularly and told me about her grades, her high school boyfriend, and how many points she scored in the basketball game. Recently, I found a letter in my attic that wasn’t quite as newsworthy. At least, not at first glance.

Amanda wrote it on a Sunday. “How are you? I’m fine. I have been writing in my Chicken Soup journal. I love it! I could write in it for hours. We had Dad’s side of the family over for lunch today. Doug, Linda, Barbara Jean, Jack, Sherrell and Ralph Jr. came. Mom fixed a good lunch.”

Suddenly, I remembered exactly how I felt the first time I read that letter: homesick.

The year was 2000, and I was cross-legged on the floor of my apartment, sorting through my mail. I was wondering how I would pay my rent and keep my electricity going since I had just quit my job-of-the-week. I was in the middle of a fantastic pity party when I noticed pink Lisa Frank stationery peeking out through my stack of bills. It was an Amanda letter. I loved my Amanda letters.

I read and re-read her words, especially that last sentence. “Mom fixed a good lunch.” Amanda didn’t have to write it down for me to know that Mom had served everyone her signature macaroni and cheese dish. I really missed Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese. I missed Mom, Dad and Amanda. I missed home. My meal of microwave popcorn and leftover Halloween candy just wasn’t hitting the spot.

If you ask my mom, she will tell you that she is no cook. She speaks matter-of-factly about burnt cookies, collapsed cakes and dishes that had to be buried in the back yard. Ironically, she did win the “Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of the Year” award in high school, but not because she was some kind of culinary genius. The contest consisted of an essay, and my mom can write. That is how she won.

Mom doesn’t really enjoy being in the kitchen. In fact, she has often joked that her next house will not have one. She doesn’t watch Paula Dean, she doesn’t subscribe to Bon Appetit magazine, and she certainly doesn’t spend her spare time collecting and trying out new recipes. But, she can cook a mean dish of macaroni and cheese.

A few years ago, my husband, Craig, needed a dish to take to work. One of his co-workers was leaving and they were providing a farewell lunch for her. Mom offered to fix a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and Craig quickly accepted her offer. The next day, he told her how the other employees raved about the dish. “Yeah, right,” she said. “You’re just trying to make me feel good.”

I knew Craig was telling the truth. Mom’s macaroni and cheese is fantastic. It’s one of those dishes that just makes you happy. And for me, it evokes pleasant memories of my childhood and teenage years.

Every year since my sister passed away, I set aside some time to re-read the letters that she wrote me when I lived in Myrtle Beach. I usually read them each summer, and this year is no exception. For some reason, this one really stuck with me.

I haven’t told my mom about it yet. I’m never quite sure how she’ll react to reading Amanda’s letters. But this one is worth sharing. After all, Amanda thought Mom’s cooking was good enough to write about.

In case she ever doubts her culinary abilities, I have the proof in writing. On Sunday, January 17th, 2000, “Mom fixed a good lunch.” I think she should know.

About this writer

  • Melissa FaceMelissa Face lives in southern Virginia with her husband, son and daughter. Her stories and essays have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. Email Melissa at writermsface@yahoo.com.

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2 Responses to “A Good Lunch”

  1. Kim says:

    Thanks, honey. It’s good to know that I have one signature dish. I’ll have to make it for sure now!

  2. Mary Carr says:

    Love,love,love, this story. I do remember your mom winning that contest and thinking I should of won it,not for the writing of course but I’m the cook.lol It’s OK I still love your mom and I’ll be wanting some mac & cheese at our next luncheon.

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