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around the table

Around the Table

Around the table. Three very powerful words. 

Sometimes it is just easier to drive through and eat in front of the TV or just eat in the car. I get that. Boy, do I get that. This one has soccer, this one dance, this one piano, this one…

Just getting them to the right places at the right time is monumental. It’s a conundrum I know all too well. After having 4 children in 5 ½ years, I was a mom who acted more like cruise director.

But…but…but…

Get them around that table!

The Table. Perhaps there is no more important place in our homes. No more important place for our families. Studies have shown that children who eat family meals (around the table) do better in school, are less likely to get depressed, less likely to use drugs or alcohol, and they are better socially prepared when they leave home.

So much of life happens around the table. Big announcements are celebrated! Family budget or vacation plans are discussed (these two are closely related in my home), funny stories or jokes are told, memories are made, and moments are shared. Tears & laughter are both equally welcome.

But something much deeper takes place right between the mashed potatoes and the roast beef: community evolves.

Real community. Care, commitment, and unity are birthed, grow and mature. That table with its four legs, flat surface and steady stance, takes away all the ‘me’ and replaces it with ‘we.’ 

Now I have seen my share of turmoil around our table. 

The complaints (do they hate everything I cook?), shouting matches (why can’t we all be happy? We have food to eat and family to share it), and my personal favorite, dramatic departures (academy award winning performances).

But even the ugly contribute to community. Those are shared moments as well. After all, when it comes to emotion, there is usually passion at both ends of the continuum. I always figured if my kiddos had that much passion towards one another in anger, they would probably have that much passion in love for one another as well. Which - I am glad to report - really did prove to be true now that they are all adults. 

And guess what? We still gather around that table at least once a week. Although the dramatic departures and shouting matches have disappeared, there is still the occasional complaint: “Really?! No homemade whipped cream?!” To which I reply, “Really!”

 

So whether you grab a drive-thru dinner, pick up a grocery store rotisserie chicken, or make a meal from scratch, bring them back to the table.

After all it’s the people who matter, not the food! So go ahead and eat a drive-thru cheeseburger on a real plate, use cloth napkins, or light some candles. They might wonder why the change… let them.

And one day they will sit at your table as adults and will have discovered that all those childhood moments around the table were all about community, not the food. 

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