A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22
The virtuous wife.......is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household....Proverbs 31:14-15
There are about three months of winter left to endure (spring starts March 20th), and down in South Carolina, the cold weather is just getting started. I suppose that every family has its own routine when sickness invades, but in ours, matzo ball soup has become a tasty way to bring relief and to feel loved and comforted.
I can divide our family into two camps during illness - and I say this with great humor and affection: One is the "tough guy" camp. It is a lonely one because my husband, Scott is the only member. He never complains, and so it is not apparent the man is sick until he literally sneezes on you or collapses. The other camp in the Wand household is called the "Whiney Baby" camp (we admit this freely). That is pretty much the rest of us. Somehow we manage to get around, "Do all things without murmuring or complaining" (Philippians 2:14) by convincing ourselves that our requests are actually needs. We want to be pampered when we feel yucky. This special group needs lots of attention. Please bring us a box of tissues with aloe, hot tea on a saucer, ginger ale with ice and a bendy straw, and finally, a piping, hot bowl of matzo ball soup, oh, and please don't leave me because I might need my back scratched - and I'm just describing me. Harrison is the more selective patient. He doesn't want any of the above except a decent sandwich on toast, with lots of mayonnaise, and lots of pickles. And, "Would you please bring that bench thingy from your desk in here so I can have a little table for my drink?" This camp has been known to say things like, "Are you sure I don't have a fever? I think my head is getting warmer." To which it is often replied (with a smile), "Nope. Keep trying." The only thing "tough guy" requires is a shot of orange juice and a nap (but we pamper him anyway and although he appreciates it, he doesn't require it).
Two of us, however, happen to be excellent nurses. One is me, of course (I'm like, the mama) and the other is Emily. The others - not so much. They don't exactly neglect you, but you're pretty much just going to receive the "basic package" of nurturing. Emily attends you like a superstar waitress and asks questions like, "How do you want your sandwich? Would you like your bread toasted?" Your food will arrive with extras like lettuce, tomato, and maybe even a little pickle spear on the side. She has even been known to uncover your feet and give you a pedicure. She'll make you hot tea with just the right amount of honey and add fresh mint from her garden. Her care is so phenomenal it makes you want to lick a grocery cart just to receive it.
Hayden, although amiable and willing to help, is an artist, not a nurse. She prefers more interesting projects like cake decorating, crafts, journaling, and reading. Sick people totally cramp her style. A bedside conversation with Hayden goes something like this,
"Honey, did you put mayonnaise on this sandwich?"
"Oh, did you ask for mayonnaise?"
"Do you think you could add a little mayo on this and cut it in half?"
Sandwich comes back.
"Could you put some ice in my drink?"
"But I did!"
She'll then lean over, peer into your glass, and point out a lonely, little ice chip adrift in a sea of beverage.
"Could you please put a handful of ice in here?"
Then a sneeze.
"Ugh, Sweetie, could you grab me a tissue?"
She'll then hand you two sheets of toilet paper.
Somehow you sense that you have totally exasperated Hayden and you end up feeling like some kind of hospital diva. If you want Hayden to hang around, put an old movie on the television, and she'll surely climb in next to you. She'll snuggle up close and say something like,
"Wow! You are soooo warm!"
And then she'll rub her icy feet on your legs. At just about the moment you are about to exclaim, "Do you even have a circulatory system?", she'll suddenly use those wonderfully cool fingers to play with your hair. But, as your eyelids begin to close into blissful slumber, beware! She is ever so carefully sliding the remote from out of your pathetic, sickly hand...........
As for the boys, well, why should you ask them for help? Where are the girls? If in fact, you do happen to ask one of the little ones for help (maybe the girls are sick for example - a desperate situation indeed), a confused expression comes over their little faces as they try to process the information.
"You want me to make you some soup?"
Then the little guy will leave and twenty minutes later you'll hear Legos spill out onto the floor and you know the soup has been forgotten. Forget asking Harrison. He is nowhere to be found. Scott is a great nurse when he remembers to check on you. But I digress. Back to the soup.
Matzo ball soup was first introduced to our family when we began practicing a Messianic Passover Seder each year on Good Friday. We have been doing this for several years now to prepare our hearts for Easter and simulate the deep meaning of the Last Supper.
The first course of our Seder is a Jewish tradition that has been around for a looooong time - a bowl of matzo ball soup. This became something we reserved only for Passover, but it was simply so delicious, we now also use it as our "Jewish penicillin". Because it isn't always convenient to whip up a big 'ol batch of soup when the family gets sick (especially if I'm one of them), I try to can several pints and store them to be reheated as individual servings as needed. The matzo balls are frozen so they can be reheated easily with the soup.