That's what we do. As women. We accept leftovers as part of our nourishment. Unopposed, we normalize the habit. We 'make do' with smaller portions and bites from the main meal. We are somehow satisfied in its sparseness.
I am oblivious to the oddity of my meal. I pry open the round covered dish of leftover tuna salad. Flaky bits of tuna cling to the side of the dish while milky white water drains to the center. I give it a quick stir to whip it back to something a little more appealing. There is so little there that I'm uncertain why my daughter was unable to finish it yesterday. I grab another container which houses the last few pieces of rigatoni completely immobilized by coagulated cream sauce. Alfredo, maybe? I give a quick whiff and decide it's safe.
I pop open the microwave door and heat the pasta that's being held hostage by what looks like glue. I head to the pantry and grab the remaining folded down sleeve of saltines and find eight. Pretty good. I place everything on the kitchen table and pour a glass of water. When the microwave beeps, I poke my fork around the steam and rubbery pasta. I blow on it once and then went to work on my *air quotes* "meal" of tuna salad, crackers and pasta Alfredo. I ate for sustenance rather than pleasure. I ate leftovers for efficiency. How appetizing, right?
My husband's expression was a mixture of curiosity and repulsion.
"What?" I said as I scraped off tuna salad from the side of the dish with a cracker.
"Nothing - that's uh, just...quite a combination there."
"It's what was leftover. Steak and shrimp salad didn't seem to be available in our fridge today."
My reply was snarky. I didn't really mean for it to be, but the very point of having leftovers is because the food leftover was not wanted during the original meal time. Food that is *wanted* gets eaten. Inevitably, people get full. They lose the taste for something or grow tired of it. They want something else. Something different. Something made fresh.
So I ate the leftovers. Maybe the combination wasn't the most appetizing. But when the meals were presented separately, they were quite good. Pieces of different meals became my Lunch Special #6. It's all in your imagination. I believe people (mostly women) make do with leftovers for many reasons, but here are four of the most logical: 1. Because it's quick and easy. 2. Because it's an efficient way to clean out the fridge. 3. There is no reason to waste food. And 4. Because we always eat the leftovers.
A story comes to mind about my oldest sister, the few days after she gave birth to her first daughter. It was 1985 and she and her husband were living in an apartment outside of Jackson, Mississippi. I watched my mom bustle around the kitchen to put something together with what was leftover in my sister's kitchen. We had traveled from NC to see the first grandchild in our family and for whatever reason, a grocery store run had not happened between our trip down there and my sister's time in the hospital. My mom found eggs, a couple of cans of tuna, mayonnaise and relish. There was about a half a loaf of bread (possibly stale) but my mother never commented. She went straight to work, boiling the eggs, and draining the tuna.
For dinner, we had tuna salad sandwiches. I remember my sister holding her brand new daughter, saying it was the best tuna salad she'd ever remembered. I never forgot that. It wasn't about the tuna, the salad or the fact that mom made it. It was because we watched a woman we admire take care of her daughter with the resources she had. She made do with leftovers. And it was enough.
If I were to get philosophical here - and it looks like I'm going to, what this means to me is that we as women are oftentimes GRATEFFUL for the portions, because there are millions in this world who would be happy to have them. Mother's coined the phrase, "EAT! There are starving children." Because there are, and mothers seem to have a deeper understanding about how much waste there is.
"Making do" is not merely scraping by. When we make do - we recognize the value of God's provision and how "leftovers" can be shared with others.
Seeds to Share:
John 6:12 - When they all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.
**Tenneva Jordan wrote, "A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie."**