On Sunday, January 27th we had our first potluck at one of our members' homes. It was such a cozy, relaxed atmosphere, where 6 families enjoyed good food, the adults could freely talk about topics both light and deep, and the children played harmoniously with each other. The men preferred to be deep in conversation while the ladies and children spent some time crafting "love jars". You could also call them gratitude or recognition jars.
We have been doing this in my family for a few years now and the kids not only enjoy creating notes for my husband and I, but they love opening their jars and re-reading old notes we gave to them. It is heartwarming to see the light in their eyes as they read a little something another family member loves about them. They write notes to each other too. Especially in hard moments of parenting or family life, taking a minute to focus on the positive things we see in each other really has the power to add perspective and gratitude back into the situation.
The idea is quite simple. You decorate a glass jar (this could be a mason jar, but we used upcycled food jars on Sunday) for each person in the family. Take A4 paper and cut strips of paper along the short side about 2 cm wide (the paper strip will measure about 21cm long x 2cm wide). Start a family ritual of writing notes of love, appreciation or recognition for each other, reading them together and storing them in the jars. If you are stuck for what to write, you can print out note templates like the following:
I will never forget, when you..._____________________________________________________
______________________________________________________ Love, __________________
I appreciate it when you...
I am sorry if I sometimes...
What I like most about you is....
I would like to thank you for...
5 words that describe you are...
Our family would not be the same without your...
This could be something you do daily after dinner, or something you do spontaneously whenever someones feels like it. In our family, we started it as a daily practice and then let it flow more organically, writing notes whenever the inspiration came. For kids who cannot write or read yet, parents can of course help and the words can be as simple as "I like your hugs". Love jars are just one way of bringing more compassion into our lives, complementing our compassion for animals with compassion for ourselves and each other.
We are currently planning out next potlucks for February and March and will inform you of the dates as soon as we have them. From April to October when we can be outside, we usually host our potlucks at Hof Narr animal sanctuary. In the winter, we have rented spaces like community centers or forest huts, or held special events together with Hello Vegan shop, ichbrauche Center for Plant Based Nutrition & Health, or the Green Christmas market. In the future, we will do more winter potlucks at people's homes, as it was so lovely this time!
Here are the recipes people had requested:
Apple Muffins: www.chefkoch.de/rezepte/2153331345656110/Vegane-Apfelmuffins.html
Life-Affirming Nacho Dip: www.dreenaburton.com/oh-she-glows-cookbook/
Wishing you much happiness, healthy and peace,
Michelle & Louise