The winter holidays are a time for giving, for sharing, and for reflecting on the passing year. This is a terrific time for families to celebrate their values and traditions as they nurture the spiritual, emotional and social intelligence of their children. A favorite activity of my colleagues and I is called “The Great Meal Exchange,” which is especially appropriate at this time of year. In short, two people assemble and serve each other a snack or meal. The people can be strangers, friends, different ages/generations, cousins, or classmates—anyone.
First choose two people who would benefit from knowing each other better or finding positive ways to interact. Second, decide what they will be eating. (Many suggestions follow below. Consider what might be their favorites.) Third, have them interview each other. The interview can just be about their favorite things to eat, given the choices available, or, you can go further and give them a list of facts to find out about each other: favorite music, games, activities, interests; hidden talents or skills; hopes for the future, and so on. Provide paper and pencil and ask them to write ideas down. Next, they separate and create a snack or meal to serve the other. Encourage them to be creative when combining colors, textures, shapes and tastes. Finally, they eat together and continue interacting.
Here are ideas about some of the “makings” to provide: (Add your own creative ideas that suit your health, allergy and nutrition needs and that are appropriate to your beliefs and values.)
• tacos/tostadas: tortillas/shells, meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, salsa, guacamole
• sandwiches: interesting bread, meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomato, pickles/relish/olives, mustard, mayonnaise or peanut butter, dried fruits, nuts, jellies, bananas
• salads: lettuces, tomato, cucumber, cheese, carrots, dressings, other raw vegetables, chopped boiled egg, chicken or other protein or try nuts and blueberries or other fruits
• sundaes: different flavors of ice cream or frozen yogurt, fruit, nuts, chocolate sauce, whipped topping, crushed peppermint or other hard candies
• snack mix: popcorn, pretzels, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, small chocolate pieces, grated cheese, spices