Frances Streuli’s birthday was yesterday. She would have been 105. She dreamed that everyone would have a cookie.
She made the best cookies and she loved to see people enjoying them. Peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, take your pick. But the special ones were the sugar cookies, always on theme thanks to drawers full of carefully curated cutters, meticulously decorated in such detail the finer lines of icing were applied with a toothpick. It was edible art that sometimes took all night.
Most problems can be made better with a cookie, and a cookie that’s been made with hours of love makes even the biggest woes a little sweeter. How upset can you be when you’re eating a cookie?
One of Rotary’s successes is having a meeting that’s built around a meal. Meetings could have been held at 7 pm, with members coming in after dinner, but it wouldn’t be the same. Breakfast club, lunch club or dinner club, Rotary means a meal, and that means a different level of fellowship than sitting in uniform rows of white plastic folding chairs or on some hardwood Presbyterian pew.
Food gives us a chance to talk. Round tables give us a chance to see who we’re talking to. And the dessert table — well, that just puts us in a better mood. How could it not? There are cookies.
Robin Dunbar’s University of Oxford 2107 study revealed that the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.
The results suggested that communal eating increases social bonding and feelings of wellbeing, and enhances one’s sense of contentedness and embedding within the community.
Researchers found that people who eat socially are not only more likely to feel better about themselves, they’re also more likely to have a wider social network capable of providing social and emotional support.
“In addition to the emotional and collaborative aspects, food also serves as a catalyst for conversation and social interaction,” blogger Chole observed. “Sharing a meal provides a natural setting for people to engage in meaningful conversations, exchange stories, and connect on a deeper level. The act of breaking bread together creates a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, allowing individuals to open up and share their thoughts and experiences. Whether it’s discussing current events, sharing personal anecdotes, or simply engaging in light-hearted banter, the shared experience of a meal encourages communication and strengthens relationships.”
Ron DeGrange was full of cowboy wit and wisdom, a purveyor of sage advice: “You can’t tell someone who’s 25 what it’s like to be 40 and you can’t tell someone who’s single what it’s like to be married. They’ll know when they get there.” And rancher analogies: “I ain’t had that much fun since the hogs ate my little brother.” One of his Stetson-shaded views was that everyone should have seven friends, one you could visit each night of the week for dinner.
Frances wasn’t a Rotarian or even a Rotary Ann. But there’s no doubt those cookies built plenty of goodwill and better friendships.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was yesterday, too. He would have been 95. He dreamed that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners would be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.