Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

As you all know, but may have forgotten, last Sunday was Easter. Easter is a great day. See, it's the end of Lent, so after 40 days of fasting from something (coffee this year), it jumps back into your life with a caffeinated one-two punch, allowing you to stay WIDE AWAKE all day long. This Easter in NYC was also a beautiful, warm, sunny day after an appropriately rainy and glum Holy Week.

Even though I had a friend in town and got to spend time with friends all day, I typically miss my family like crazy on Easter. This leads to me compensating for being alone in all sorts of grand and glorious ways, but primarily in spurts of domesticity and sociability.


A dear friend was hosting brunch for all of us lonely students, and made some delicious chicken salad for lunch. I offered to make cheese grits — a family recipe that we only eat on Easter. I'm not from the South, but this dish is AMAZING. It's definitely not the nasty Velveeta's-white-trash-cousin-meets-Quaker-instant-grits recipe on the back of the container. It tastes like the comfort food of the rich and famous. I had made the cheese grits the night before, and then popped them into the oven after church. We then took two casserole dishes full of cheese grits up to the roof of my apartment building, where they joined the chicken salad, some green beans, lemonade, limeade, brownies, and bundt cake.


A group of about 20 of us then shared a wonderful Easter brunch. We talked, we laughed, we ate. Most people had been able to come without having to bring anything, and there was plenty of food to go around. We enjoyed each other's company, and only had one dog pee on the table we brought up (but alas, he peed twice).


See, the interesting thing about economics is that it typically tries to save resources. In the name of efficiency and self-interest, generosity can be smirked at as anything from a benign experiment to harmfully removing incentives to work. In reality though, generosity helps everyone. Through the generosity of those who provided food, about 15 people got a completely free lunch on Easter.


The astute reader will notice the phrase "free lunch" and point out that it cost the few people who made lunch quite a lot. Well, on the one hand, yes. I had to buy ingredients to make cheese grits, and I took time out of my day to make them. But, not only did I enjoy getting to cook a family recipe, I could not have found a restaurant with chicken salad, cheese grits, green beans, lemonade, limeade, brownies, and bundt cake for under $15 (what I spent making cheese grits). Granted, I made a side dish, so it wasn't extremely expensive. But for significantly less than what I would have spent feeding just myself, I was able to contribute to the free lunch of many others.


From an economic standpoint, I used economies of scale, and specialized in the part of the meal in which I had a comparative advantage. From a human standpoint, I got to give of myself and reap benefits tenfold. Our brunch was one of the most fun things I've done in quite some time. It was the kind of soiree that simultaneously energizes and relaxes you, instead of the usual combination that drains and overstimulates. It was the kind of party in which conversation and food were generously given and freely taken. The kind of event that reminds us that He is risen indeed.


(Easter also called for outfit changes! Although the second was not strictly business casual, it made sense to include it.)


I went to church and put cheese grits in the oven in:

Orange empire-waisted halter-top dress, gray knit shrug, silver hoop earrings, silver bangles, silver daisy ring, and gray patent round-toe stilettos


I ate brunch in:

Floral tunic blouse, slim denim crop pants, blue glass bead dangly earrings, black flower ring, and black patent peep-toe wedges