Best Meal of 2009

With a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner behind me, and a month of December delicacies ahead, my thoughts have turned to my favorite meals this year.  I have dined in several spectacular restaurants this year and tasted some magnificent dishes - pepper-encrusted filet, black bean cakes with salsa, white and black chocolate bread pudding.  I have been treated to scrumptious dinners from friends and family who are excellent chefs.  But of all the food placed before me this year, my favorite was a bowl of red jello. 

Now, I am not a jello kind of gal.  I do not consider jello a dessert for sure - chocolate is not involved.  Nor do I see jello as a substitute for a salad, a fruit, or even a snack.  In my book, jello is really a useless substance.  Don't like the smell; don't like the taste; don't like the texture.

But, in July, a bowl of red jello became my most memorable dining experience of the year.  My older son, Rixon, and I were lounging in the sun, talking about his upcoming senior year - football practice, college applications, vacation plans - and dozing in between.

Suddenly, my younger son, Colby, burst through the back door, bearing two bowls of red jello.  This jello was not molded into cubes or rounded domes.  It was not garnished with dabs of whipped cream.  This jello had obviously been squished through Colby's fingers as it was glopped into the bowls.

And yet, Rixon and I sat up and looked at each other, astounded and ecstatic.  Colby, who has autism, had SERVED US jello.  Colby, in his 15 years, has shared food only a handful of times.  He has spontaneously said "I love you" only two or three times in his life.  His conversation, strained at best, nearly always centers on"I want ..." 

But, today, amazingly, Colby had formed the thought, "I want to do something for my mother and brother."  On his own, he had searched the fridge, found containers of jello, torn them open, pulled out bowls, maneuvered the jello into bowls, retrieved spoons, and searched us out. 

As he thrust the bowls into our hands, his smile said it all.  For the first time in his life, Colby was performing an act of service, simply out of love.

The best meal ever.