Everyone congregated later night with warm dishes in hand. We started the meal by explaining the item we had brought. There was templeque (a Puerto Rican coconut pudding) made with Grandma's instructions over the phone, the steaming Southern New Year's dish of hoppin john, and wiener boats (hot dogs, mashed potatoes, and cheese goes a long way) to name a few. Each dish had a story, a family member, or a memory mixed in. We were saying grace.
Conversation darted to less nostalgic topics once everyone dug in. Still, I couldn't help thinking about when and where everyone in this eclectic group had brought their dishes from. Each bite had a dash of something or from someone's past. It's amazing how food brings people together, both to those around them and those they have shared the same meal with in the past. Meals can be a communion in the most essential sense.