In April of 2007 I wrote a column about meal sign up sheets. I can’t find the actual clip but a portion of the text is below. Anyway, today I got an online sign up complete with the likes and dislikes of the recipients as well as special instructions for delivery. Yep, it’s a website designed to streamline the process so now you can feel pressured to cook for your neighbor from the privacy of your inbox.
You know you’ve thought it. You’re just too nice to say anything. This whole sign-up to take meals to a neighbor thing is getting a bit ridiculous. It seems that many of the ladies generating these forms and passing them around haphazardly are just looking for a reason to decorate a clipboard.
Of course it’s okay to ask people to sign up and cook for the traditional reasons. You know, someone has had a baby or experienced an earth shattering, life altering event. In these cases I’m more than happy to throw together my chicken spaghetti recipe and run it right over.
But recently I’ve noticed an increase in the number of these sign-up sheets being thrown around with an alarmingly expanded list of reasons that said meals are necessary. As the modern definition of “in need” evolves at meetings across the Park Cities I have to work hard to keep myself from laughing out loud, the kind of guffaw that produces little bits of spittle and a snort.
Drawing from real experiences I have partnered with other area women in hopes of putting an end to the meal delivery madness.
If you’re remodeling your kitchen in your 1.5 million dollar home, you can go out to dinner. If you are in bed recovering from plastic surgery and can’t cook for your family, no meals for you. And if your 98 year old grandmother who lives out of state so you haven’t seen her in five years and didn’t go to her funeral dies, it’s sad but no meals for you either.
What’s next? Meals for really bad hair cut victims or unfortunate behavior while under the influence last Saturday night? After all, you can’t leave the house for a few days.
Even more shocking than the rationale behind the need for the “it takes a village to cook dinner” movement are the requests and notations listed on the actual sign-up sheet. Here are a few that have made us whistleblowers glance around a meeting searching for anyone that may be on our side:
• Please remember the in-laws are in town and plan to serve two more people. Now, when extended family comes in, it’s to help out. Right? Let them cook dinner.
• Don’t forget, Suzy’s parents are here and her father is a diabetic. Can’t Suzy’s mom fix something for the grandpa? I mean, I’m already feeding everyone else.
• Mike won’t eat casseroles. Well, then he is getting something that calls for a can cream of mushroom soup and a sprinkle of bread crumbs on top.
• Keep in mind that they are very healthy eaters and they try to avoid nitrates. I want to sign-up just so I can take a box of salt and a basket of cheese fries from Snuffers.
• They have cabin fever and probably need to get out. It may be nice to buy gift certificates to nearby restaurants. You must be kidding. But you’re not. Forget it, I won’t do it.
• If they are not home there will be a cooler on the porch for you to place the meals in. Wait a minute. She is okay enough to get out but needs meals delivered? Stop for Chinese on your way home, sister.
The truth is that you can’t just give the pretty sign-up to the next person without signing up. That’s like passing the offering plate at church without putting something in it. It’s too obvious.
So please, if you don’t really qualify for the meals under the historical guidelines and you have special requests, cook for yourself. If you don’t want what someone brings, throw it away and send a thank you note. And if you feel the need to organize meals for someone that doesn’t need it, stop. There are plenty of other things to decorate with ribbon and paint pens besides clipboards.