The Family that Eats Together, Stays Together

Families that eat together, stay together

“He brought me to His banqueting house and His banner over me is love.”  Song of Songs 2:4  The Bible is filled with scenes of eating…at the table, at the feasts, at the gathering of the five thousand.  There is something magical that happens when we break bread with our loved ones and even with those we don’t know very well.  Think about it: a meal is a pause in our daily routine where we turn our attention to others in order to listen and to be heard. For the one making the meal it is a sacrifice of our time, an outlet for creative skills, and a way to show people how much we love them.  I love nothing so much as a beautifully set table with beautiful linens, table decorations, candles and wonderful home cooked food.  In the course of a year we have the opportunity to sit down to 1, 095 meals if we eat three meals a day.  Today most of don’t eat three meals together anymore but we could make an exception and view dinner as the time where we will reconnect as families around a table and give our full attention to one another. I think back on my childhood and my fondest memories always revolved around the holidays, not because it was gift giving and receiving time, but because of the meals we would eat together.  I can still remember my mother and her 4 sisters laughing as they cooked, set the table and then washed all the dishes by hand because there was no dishwasher.  There was never any complaining, to them it was complete joy.  The children were left to our own devices which usually meant scaring one another in the underground tornado shelter.  One did not live in west Texas without a tornado shelter.  But those family holiday dinners were the happiest times I can remember growing up. When my parents and I moved to Florida from Texas, away from all our family, we decided to celebrate our first holiday alone, which was Thanksgiving, in a restaurant.  It was the worst holiday of my life.  We all cried and made the decision right then and there to never celebrate another holiday in a restaurant.  Instead my parents embraced the idea of making the holidays the times where we would round up all the people we knew who didn’t have family near by with which to celebrate. In Florida that is a shockingly large amount of people.  No one is really from Florida and most people have family living in other states.  Watching my mom get our her beautiful linens, her best dishes, silverware and stemware made me appreciate and want to carry on the tradition of setting beautiful tables.  As I grew to have my own family, I vowed to make family dinners a priority.  We accomplished this most nights. For Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, I would carry on my mother’s tradition of inviting those without nearby families to join us. I still do that to this day.  I love thinking about how to set my table, gathering up the beautiful things I have collected over the years and then get to work putting it all together.  Because the table is so important to me, I begin setting the table days in advance. It brings me great joy to look around the table, listen to the interesting conversations, learning something new about a person I’ve known for a long time.  I think about Jesus as he sat with sinners and saints, teaching them, loving them and taking time for them.  Dinners then lasted a long time.  One thing I love about traveling in Europe is the idea of long, drawn out dinners.  No one is in a hurry at meal times. The waiter doesn’t bring the check as soon as the last morsel is eaten off the plate.  Dinners last for hours, long joyous hours of listening and talking and learning lovely new things about the folks in our worlds. One of my goals for Other Eden is to talk about tablescapes and how they invite people to linger over a meal. I want my table to always have room for the unexpected guest, the long time friend who I haven’t seen in a while, for my adult children and their spouses, for neighbors and their children and grandchildren.  I want the times around the table to remind my guests and family that there is a table in Heaven waiting for us and this earthly table is a shadow of the much better banqueting table to come.  

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