(Please excuse and/or enjoy the spring photos in this post. It is mid-January. I know. And I need to look at asparagus and tulips to help my toes warm up today.)
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When Lupine was born three years ago we were strangers to nearly everyone in this town. We had lived here for just six weeks, and knew only a handful of people. And then the phone rang. It was an acquaintance/friend from before our move. A woman who had moved here less than a year before us. "Is anyone doing your meal wheel yet?" she asked.
"Your meal wheel. I'll organize it for you," she offered.
While we didn't really know what it was all about, we got the gist: people would be bringing us dinner every evening after our baby arrived. Never mind the fact that we really didn't know anyone here yet. That didn't seem to matter.
And it didn't.
Night after night strangers arrived at our door, carrying meals. Not just main-dish entrees. Meals. Amazing. Magical. Delicious. Meals. Baked salmon. Salads. Pasta with bacon, spinach, and cream sauce (Anne, we need that recipe!). Wine and beer. Dessert. And notes with phone numbers and welcome notes bringing us into this new community.
Seriously. We hit the jackpot with this town. They just kept coming, night after night. More than three weeks later we were ready to start cooking for ourselves and our meal wheel had run its course. It was the most amazing welcome I have ever experienced.
If we were having a baby today, most of those same people would be on our meal wheel again. Next week we are bringing a meal to a neighbor who just welcomed their new little one into their arms. And recently a meal wheel organized for an older woman in town who was navigating some health issues.
Just today I received an email from a friend-of-a-friend who participated in a meal wheel I organized a month ago and now has started one of her own to help an injured loved one.
Below is an email I recently sent out as I organized a Meal Wheel in a community where it is not a familiar concept. I made a few edits to make it more universal. Feel free to copy and paste this into your own email:
What is a Meal Wheel?
A meal wheel
is a rotation of friends and family delivering a complete dinner, hot
and ready to eat to a family who needs a little extra help. When a new
baby comes, the Meal Wheel
really allows the family to foucs on the important work of getting to
know their new little one, get into the nursing and napping groove, and
relax. As a longtime friend of <my friend's name> I wanted to share this priceless
gift with her and her growing family. It was the most valuable gift we
received when or last child was born.
How it Works
Participants sign up for a specific night. You arrive with a complete, hot meal
(dessert and all if you can pull it off!) at their door around 5:30,
stealth into their kitchen, and leave it on the table. <This is one way to do it. Other families will not be comfortable with this and will prefer a traditional ring-the-doorbell approach.>This is not your
"meet the baby" visit unless the new parents are inspired. It is really
just a quick, quiet delivery and fast exit. This is their time to
snuggle in and meet their new little one rather than socialize. That
will come later!
Who Can Do It
Friends, neighbors, family,
coworkers, colleagues, acquaintances, friends-of-friends… anyone. You
get the idea (tell everyone!). Please pass this email onto others who
you think would consider participating. We'd love to fill up three to
four weeks of dinners for them.
Please email your date preferences to me at <your email address>.
I am scheduling from <enter dates here>. Please send me three date
options, beginning on the early end of the schedule (IE: this week).
You can also call me at <phone number>.
dinner between <family's preference times, ex: 5:15 and 5:30 pm> ready to eat at <address here>. Enter the house quietly and leave the
meal on the kitchen table. Especially in the
first few days, Mama and baby will likely be resting. Label your dishes
with your name and phone number to make returns easier.
That's it! Many thanks for participating and passing this invitation along. Thanks so much!