Recently my daughter had a friend over to our house and he had dinner with our family. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this meal, but he remarked to our daughter that it was very different from what he was used to. I’m not sure what he meant but the comment made me think about our routine. Dinnertime is typically later in the evening, at least 7pm, and if you are home, you are at our table. I try to have a colorful variety of food, and often will tell everyone the benefits of that night’s menu. We wait until the last person joins us, then we pray and dig in. There are no visitors at our table, it’s every man for himself. We talk about our day and usually the kids try to get Dad to laugh, which is no easy task. For years we played a game called Best and Worst at the table, going around person by person, sharing our highs and lows of the day, but these days no one needs prompting. We rarely talk about serious issues while eating dinner, we like to keep the conversation light, but we are willing to stay long after the food is gone to discuss something important. It’s nothing grand, it’s just who we are.
This is our routine because it’s very similar to the way I grew up. Throughout the years, my Mom had a chalkboard in the kitchen, detailing the menu for the week. My friends were always amazed at the fact that there was a plan in place. My Dad would come home from work, go for a run and then we all sat down for a homemade dinner. There was no stress at the table, just the consistency of good food and family. Most every night.
I don’t think we value the family meal enough these days, giving in to eating on the go or even in separate rooms of the house. Sitting together, sharing life, even for just a few minutes on a regular basis helps us to feel a part of a team and gives us a time to connect regularly. Obviously there are seasons with sports and activities that prevent everyone from gathering for dinner each night, but it is the intentional practice over time that makes it rewarding.
I am thankful for a Mom who saw the importance of the ritual and kept it for many years, passing it on to our family. Happy Mother’s Day!