By Joseph J. Mazzella

“What was the most delicious meal you ever had?” That was the question in an online survey that popped up on my screen the other day. I moved my mouse over and clicked out of the survey, but the question stayed with me. As I thought about it only one answer came to my mind: Ramen noodles.

It happened years ago during Hurricane Sandy when 3 feet of wet, heavy snow hit the mountains of my home. Trees were snapped, power lines were down, and my children and I were stuck in the house bundled up in coats and shivering in the cold. We had no heat, no lights, no television, no telephone, and no internet. The meat in the freezer had already gone bad and any food that wasn’t spoiled had already been eaten. All the stores were closed due to the storm too. I felt shaky from not eating and when I looked in my youngest son’s eyes I could see how hungry he was as well.

Thankfully, though, I still had several bags of Ramen noodles. Taking them and an old pot I walked over to my Dad’s house. He had lost power too but still had his propane grill to cook with. I set the noodles simmering on the eye of it and watched them slowly boil. Trudging back through the snow I held the pot gingerly. Then I poured myself, daughter and sons each a big bowl of them. They were so delicious. We ate and ate until our hunger faded and then sat around the table and smiled at each other. It was the best meal I ever had. We all felt so happy at that moment and our joy only grew greater when the power came back on later that night.

I learned something special too from that meal. I learned that the greatest happiness comes from a grateful heart. Since then I have been more and more thankful to God for every blessing in my life. I thank Him for every sunny day, every meal, every smile, and every bird singing in the trees. I thank Him for my heat, lights, and all the modem conveniences we too often take for granted. I thank Him for each new day he gives me here to live, to learn, and to love. I thank Him for His love. And I thank Him too for every adversity and challenge that comes my way, because I have learned to use them as well to grow stronger, better, and kinder.

May your best meal always be the one you are eating right now. May the best you always be the person you are right now. And may you always live with a grateful heart full of love, joy, and God.