When I was growing up, we had different set meals for certain days. Every Thursday was spaghetti day. Apparently that one was the one I liked most, because I can’t remember what the other days’ menu offered ? except that on Sundays we usually had a yummy pot roast with all the trimmings.

Only after I grew up and had a family of my own did I realize how tough it may have been for my mother to come up with good meals every night when I was a little girl. The budget back in those days must have been really tight. Knowing my mom, she probably worried over how to pull it off.

I never heard a word of complaint, though, from either of my parents. We always had food to eat, and we always sat down together as a family. We always offered prayers of thanks and we always talked together during the “dinner hour.”

Many homes today have never observed a dinner hour. Our schedules are so busy, with parents and children going in different directions at different times, with events and jobs and so many things going on in the world, that “dinner hour” has become more of a fast food drive-through experience at times!

I have realized that the plate of food sitting before me ? although nutritious and good (well, I remember some unpleasant moments when I had to “at least try” some strange vegetable that looked scary to me) ? was only part of the sustenance offered. The finer nourishment, perhaps, came from the things Mom and Dad taught as we sat together and visited.

As I look back, it is clear that much of the food my mother fed me had little to do with what I put in my mouth. It was more about the words spoken that went into my brain and into my heart. I wrote a poem not long ago about this very thing. This is how it goes:

The Food Mother Fed Me

Eat your veggies!
You won’t leave
The table
Until you’ve
Finished your peas.

This is how we
Tuck the corners in,
And make a bed-

Have you brushed
Your teeth?
Make sure and get in-between.

It is a privilege to read.
It takes you on
Imaginary journeys.

Isn’t nature wonderful?
Take in the view and breathe!

Offer prayers.
It’s best if you are
On your knees.
And bow your head,

Oh, the food
Fed to me.

Vickey Pahnke Taylor, 2007*

Mom has been gone almost eight years now, and how I miss the “food” she continued to feed me through the years! Her wisdom and common sense were worth listening to, and thinking about. The words were lovingly offered and meant to feed the spirit.

Perhaps your own mom is such a teacher. Maybe she is not. Regardless, there are folks in our lives who have made a difference. When we sit and ponder, we may reflect on the gems of wisdom and loving nourishment they offered. There is a good chance we failed to recognize ? when it was offered ? the goodness of the “food.”

So many times, Mom, and Dad, quietly offered a little lesson here, or a small gesture there, that taught ? by word and by example ? those things that “persuadeth to do good.” (See 2 Nephi, 33:4.)

Have you thanked your mom lately for the “food she feeds you”? Or any other of the good people who have taught lessons that made a positive difference? Even those (at the time, perhaps) annoying little off-the-cuff remarks come around full circle, and help us. We think back, shake our head, and smile at the wisdom placed on our plates. It is ours to take in and chew on ? ours to grow from.

In a fast food, microwave, pre-cooked world, the food that matters most may not come in a settled, orderly daily dinner hour. But it comes, nevertheless. Let’s make sure to gobble up the good food mom feeds us!

* This poem is from the book Apron Strings: Tender Ties between Mothers and Daughters, which is coming soon from Meridian Books.