One of the unexpected blessings of 2020 was having all the kids under our roof again. When the pandemic hit and the quarantine was first announced, our oldest child (and only son) was in Dallas at school, and our oldest daughter was at school in Tennessee. The Friday before the lockdown went into effect, we arranged to have our son fly home, and I then drove to Tennessee to move our daughter back home. Once they started leaving the house for college, we thought that was it… we would never all be together at home again. We were expecting our second-oldest daughter to join her sister in Tennessee in August. That never happened. Instead, the six of us found ourselves together again.
When I started The Catholic Foodie in 2008, Char and I had only 3 kids, and they were ages 9, 7, and 6. Today they are 21, 19 and 18. And we now have the 5 year old. From the very beginning of our marriage, Char and I understood the importance of home cooking and family meals. And we made cooking and eating together a priority. Our kids grew up eating at least two meals together as a family every day. We spent lots of time together in the kitchen and around the table. This was one of the reason I started The Catholic Foodie. It was a way for me to share the joy that we experienced by being together around the table. Once the kids started graduating from high school and moving on to college, we thought the days of having everyone together around the table were gone. Then 2020 happened. It has truly been a blessed year.
I know that so many have suffered this year. We have suffered, too, in our own way. I don’t want to discount the pain and suffering that others have endured. At the same time, I have to acknowledge the unexpected and hidden blessings we have received this year. Our family meals together have been one of those blessings. The lockdown started in March, right in the middle of crawfish season down here in Louisiana. For about a decade now, we have limited the number of crawfish boils we do each year. The exportation of crawfish to other parts of the country have driven the prices up. It has been so much more expensive the last several years to do a boil. But the lockdown prevented the transport of crawfish out of state, and the prices dropped to levels I haven’t seen in probably 15 to 20 years. We boiled crawfish like crazy! I don’t know how many boils we did between March and June, but it was probably more than we have done in the last several years combined. We ended the season in June with a big crawfish boil to celebrate my 50th birthday. It was glorious!
One of my greatest joys has been to watch my older kids come into their own in the kitchen. They are not afraid to cook, not afraid to try something new, and I get such a kick out of watching them get into the kitchen and work some magic! Over the last several months, we have all pitched in with the cooking and the cleaning, and we have enjoyed countless hours together around the table. And it has been such an incredible blessing for the four kids to be together. I think years from now they will begin to see and understand how much of a blessing this time has been… especially the experience of the five-year-old having her older siblings all together again at this time of her life… and vice-versa… they have been deeply blessed by the experience of tending to and being with little Zélie.
And for us it’s always been about experience with the kids. We just celebrated Christmas. And, like most kids, our kids did get stuff. But the biggest gifts we gave them (and have always tried to give them) are experiences: trips, outings, camp, meals at special restaurants, concert tickets, etc. As a matter of fact, we are still waiting for one of the experiences from last year’s Christmas! We purchased tickets to the Lauren Daigle concert in New Orleans, but (thanks to COVID) that concert hasn’t happened yet. But it will… eventually.
Today we got to do one of this year’s Christmas gifts: a big sushi blowout at a restaurant in New Orleans. For weeks leading up to Christmas the older kids were talking about how much they missed going out to eat sushi together. So that was one of the big gifts that Char and I gave them. We went to Origami in New Orleans. Char and I discovered that restaurant during the pandemic… because it has outside seating… and we fell in love with it. Quality sushi, well priced. The kids heard us raving about it and said they would love to go. And today we went. They were thrilled.
I’m going to post some pics below of our trips to Origami. But before I do, I want to ask you: What was an unexpected or hidden blessing for you this year?
Bon appetit! And Happy New Year!