Tonight I’m making enchiladas. One of our favorite meals. It’s simple, and yummy, and we can eat the leftovers for days because let’s face it, our small children prefer a cheese quesadilla from the microwave and therefore the entire pan is left for my husband and I. But tonight, I’m making two pans. One will go in the oven in my usual glass Pyrex dish. The other will go in this:
The disposable baking dish. Oh, what emotions these pans bring me as I see them in the aisle at the grocery store. These pans bring memories of when my daughter joined our family four years ago, and all of my sweet friends from the Quad City Moms Blog brought me home-cooked meals for us to enjoy as we adjusted to life as a family of five. Those meals were so special, and they made me so sad for the fact that I hadn’t found my “mom tribe” when I had my first two babies.
These pans remind me that I have had the pleasure of returning that favor to so many mom-friends; to bring them warm casseroles or gooey brownies when they bring their own bundles of joy home from the hospital and need a little help adjusting to their new normal, whatever that may be.
These pans remind me of lasagnas cooked for my friend who moved here from Puerto Rico, as she was missing her family and I didn’t know any other way to be there for her besides baking her the meal that she enjoys so much at my home.
These pans hold “extra dinners” that I make for my mom whenever I have the chance, because she helps us with our kids whenever we need it, and her long work days make it nearly impossible for her and my dad to sit down and enjoy a warm, home-cooked meal.
And tonight, this pan will bake a bunch of cheesy chicken enchiladas for a family who needs some comfort right now. A family whose world has been turned upside down at the doctor’s results. Our dear family friend has cancer. A lot of it. And, barring a miracle (which we DO believe can happen!), she may not be with us for more than a few more months. Her husband, her grown children, her not-quite-grown child, and her grandchildren are hurting. We, her family friends, are hurting for them. It feels so helpless to hear of this news and to want so badly to do something, but not knowing what will help or what can bless them without getting in the way, without causing any unnecessary disturbances or more work for anyone.
These pans carry so many emotions, so many recipes made with love (and sometimes tears), and so many stories of good times and laughter and celebration and thankfulness, and also some stories of heartache and helplessness and comfort and loss.
Because that’s what life is really about, isn’t it? These moments, around the table, whether it’s your beautiful wedding china set out for a family Thanksgiving dinner or a disposable pan full of lasagna baked by a friend, with love, because you just needed a little help this week. Or this month. Or in this season of life.
These moments, whether happy or sad, are what shape us, what make our stories, what defines our friendships and our mom tribes and our family, whether God gave them to you or you chose them all on your own.
It really is all about the pans, my friends. It’s all about the pans.