11 Small Ways That Moms Make Mealtime a Little More Magical

updated Sep 30, 2020
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My mother is an extremely magical person.

My mom managed to convince my sister that she was controlling the traffic lights when she was little (gotta love a rolling traffic light sequence that a 4-year-old just doesn’t understand). She turned our living room into a Moroccan oasis for my dad’s 40th birthday — draping fabric from the ceilings, painstakingly making bastilla from delicate phyllo dough and ground poultry, and hiring belly dancers to transform our quiet suburban home into a raucous palace, if only for the night.

And every year, during our Passover Seder, she would do a magic trick during the telling of the plagues. The trick, shockingly, turned water to blood right before our very eyes. A colorless goblet holding just air became filled with red liquid as my mother poured crystal-clear water into the vessel. It was astounding and mystical every year.

I thought growing up that my mom must have been the only magical mom. However, I was, of course, wrong.

Many kids are lucky enough to have magical moms or maternal figures who make most days a little special and fanciful in some way. Often, this happens at the dinner table. When I asked friends and colleagues (ranging in age, occupation, and location) what memories they have of their moms and meals, the memories came pouring out. Some were funny, some were sweet, all were heartfelt.

Oh, and that Passover magic trick? I must have been in high school before I thought to ask how she did it. And the answer was, of course, “I’m magical.” You sure are, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day to all the women out there who nurture and imbue our lives with wonder every day.

How Moms Make Meals Extra Magical

I asked my friends and colleagues to tell me how their mothers (or mother figures) helped make meals just a little more magical. Here’s what they each had to say.

“My mom did manners candles. Each person in the family would have a candle by their plate and during the course of the meal, if you saw your parent or sibling do something that was not following good table manners, you got to blow their candle out. The first child whose candle burned down got to go out to get ice cream with mom and dad.” – Andrea

“My mom made up funny names for almost every dish we ate. Crazy Chop Suey, Alligator Pie, Pop-Eye’s Spinach, Snuffelupagus Stuffed Mushrooms, etc. We always laughed our faces off and ate things we might normally snub simply because it had a fun name.” – Jenn

“My grandma would make me raisin bread French toast and cut it into exactly 16 pieces every time. She was a math teacher and taught me about perfect squares. Nerd breakfast!” – Bonnie

“My mom used to draw cartoons on every brown paper lunch bag we had. She’s a very talented artist. They would usually be themed for what was going on in our little lives at the time, so I got a lot of ‘Good luck on your math test! Don’t be so scared!’ bags.” – Chelsea

“Tea time! After school she would set out tea and graham crackers and jam. I looked forward to it every day yet somehow was still surprised that it was really happening.” – Jessica

“Whenever one of us had a bad day, my mama used to give us a ‘very merry un-birthday’ dinner! There was a special red plate for just those days. We got our favorite meal and an ‘un-birthday’ cake with a candle lit so we could blow the bad day away!” – Lori Lee

“My Ma revealed to me when I was ‘of age’ (teenager I think?) that all my life, whenever we baked cupcakes, secretly, she would take one out halfway through & eat it half baked. From then on I got to participate in the half-baked cupcake.” – Nikki

“If my mom has plantains she makes Bolones, and she goes nuts with egg and salami. Yeah it’s a heart-clogging meal, but there’s so much love there.” – Jesse

“Our mom used to cut our PB&J sandwiches into fourths, cut off the crust, and arrange the sandwiches like butterflies.” – Will

“If we had a required home visit for Head Start to check on child welfare, she told me my teacher was coming over for a tea party and legit set up a full little tea party for us. I did not know until I was an adult that those were required visits! Mamas make magic.” – Melissa

“We lived in a rustic Alaskan cabin (no plumbing, plywood floors, etc.), but my mom would always use Christmas dinners as an excuse to bring out the fanciest china and linens and transform our little dining table into a beautifully set feast with candles and butter warmers, etc. It was one of many things she did (and still does) to make the holidays absolutely magical.” – Allison

How did your mom (or mother figure) make meals extra special in your home? Let us know in the comments.