It started last week over dinner with a group of girlfriends. The topic of Thanksgiving came up, and someone mentioned noodles. The seven of us grew up from coast to coast. Apparently noodles for holidays aren’t universal. Half the group looked at us and said “Noodles? Like spaghetti?”
We noodle-lovers gasped in horror that our dear friends had obviously never experienced the delight of a pile of starchy, mashed potatoes drowning in a puddle of starchy, egg noodles.
Thick noodles in beef broth. Paper thin noodles in turkey broth. We debated and compared notes and family traditions while half the group still said, “Noodles? Really?”
I remember the year my Grandma passed the noodle making on to my mother. I leaned over the counter and watched as Mom mixed egg and flour and water to just the right consistency. She rolled it out, flouring, rolling, flouring, until the dough was paper thin. The dough sat on the counter until no longer moist, yet not brittle. I’d tap an edge of the dough with my finger to check it when no one was looking. Mom then sliced the dough into long strips.
The year we got a noodle machine was a big deal. I begged for a turn to crank the handle as the dough pressed between the rollers, thinner, thinner, thinner until you could almost see through them. The thinner the better, mostly because that meant you could eat more of them before passing out in a starch-induced coma.
After the dough had dried just right, we’d switch the machine from rollers to noodle cutter. It was more fun than play dough. Tastier too.
Hours of work, a large portion of the day before the holiday, spent mixing, rolling, slicing. All for a pile of creamy noodles.
One of the first holiday gatherings with my in-laws, my husband raved about his Grandma’s noodles. The best noodles ever. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten her noodles. As we passed bowls and platters and filled plates to the brim, Kedron handed me a bowl of the magic noodles. I heaped a pile on my plate. They looked nothing like my family’s noodles. Thick, chunky, and cooked in beef broth. They were good. Different, but good. Sadly, I could only eat two before I was stuffed.
A few days ago, I began inquiring about noodle recipes. I asked Kedron’s grandma about her recipe. “Eggs, flour, and water. That’s it. Roll it out, let them dry, then cook them in broth. I always used beef.”
This sounded strangely familiar. When I asked for measurements she said, “No measurements. Just mix it up until it rolls out. I add an egg shell-full of water for each egg.”
A couple days later, I texted my mom for her noodle recipe. (The friendly-battle still rages over family noodles.) She replied, “Eggs, flour and water. That’s it.”
I asked her for a recipe. She sent me this. (Notice that it’s typed, as in with a typewriter!!)
Same ingredients. Same process. Right down to an egg shell filled with water. Completely different results. Both tasty. Just different. Both served over mashed potatoes. Both loved by their families.
How much do we compare ourselves and think we come up short in so many way because we are different from our parents, our friends, or the “culture” around us?
I wonder how often our heavenly Father desires to say to us, “Oh no, child. Same ingredients – yes – but never intended to have the same results. Different is good. Both loved by me.”
Flesh and bones. Body and Brain. Personalities and Passions.
How much creativity do we restrain because we feel we have to fit a certain mold? How often do we beat ourselves up because we compare ourselves to others? How often do we wonder where we went wrong, what we missed? Maybe you didn’t miss it.
Maybe you have all the right ingredients. They just mix up differently for you because they’re supposed to.
Eggs, flour and water. In the hands of two different skilled cooks the same ingredients give such different results. Both tasty. Both loved.
Flesh and bone. Brain and Body. Mixed with personalities and passions. You were never meant to be just like another.
So be free to mix and roll your passions and giftings in your own creative way.
Today, I’ll be making noodles. I’m certain they won’t be like my mother’s or my grandmother-in-law’s. Eggs, flour and water, in the hands of another cook. Hopefully tasty, certain to be unique.
What will you create with your unique mixing of flesh and bone, brain and body, personality and passions?
Be free. Be you.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And may you eat noodles and remember you are free to be unique.
*photo courtesy of Jodimichelle on Flickr via Creative Commons.